The Paralegal Fundamentals program is a sequence of courses that introduce students to the paralegal profession. Learning opportunities develop academic, technical, and professional knowledge and skills utilized in the legal profession. The knowledge and skills emphasized in this program include ethical obligations, legal vocabulary, and an introduction to specific areas of law, including a detailed introduction to the areas of family law and criminal law. The Paralegal Fundamentals program introduces students to concepts that are more fully developed in the Paralegal Studies diploma and degree.
- Major Code: PF21
- Award Level: Technical Certificate of Credit
- Location: Griffin Campus
- Program Entrance Term: Fall, Spring, Summer
- Minimum Length of Program: 2 Terms
- Minimum Credit Hours for Graduation: 12
- Submit completed application and application fee
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Submit official high school transcript or GED transcript with test scores and ALL post-secondary transcripts in an official sealed envelope
- Meet assessment requirements
The following is a suggested path to complete this program in a timely manner. An individual’s path to completion may be different based on institutional and personal factors affecting his/her academic progress.
Note: While all courses are offered, they may vary by term and campus. See the program advisor for any questions.
|COLL 1500||College Success and Career Exploration OR||3|
|COMP 1000||Introduction to Computers||(3)|
|PARA 1100||Introduction to Law and Ethics||3|
|PARA 1125||Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure||3|
|PARA 1115||Family Law||3|
Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.
Paralegals and legal assistants typically do the following:
- Investigate the facts of a case
- Conduct research on relevant laws, regulations, and legal articles
- Organize and maintain documents in a paper or electronic filing systems
- Gather and arrange evidence and other legal documents for attorney review and case preparation
- Write reports to help lawyers prepare for trials
- Draft correspondence and legal documents, such as contracts and mortgages
- Get affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
- Help lawyers during trials by handling exhibits, taking notes, or reviewing trial transcripts
- File exhibits, briefs, appeals and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Call clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors to schedule interviews, meetings, and depositions
Paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. However, their specific duties may vary depending on the size of the firm and the area of law in which the paralegal works.
In small firms, paralegals duties tend to vary more. In addition to reviewing and organizing documents, paralegals may prepare written reports that help lawyers determine how to handle their cases. If lawyers decide to file lawsuits on behalf of clients, paralegals may help prepare the legal arguments and draft documents to be filed with the court.
In large organizations, paralegals may work on a particular phase of a case, rather than handling a case from beginning to end. For example, a litigation paralegal may only review legal material for internal use, maintain reference files, conduct research for lawyers, or collect and organize evidence for hearings.
Litigation paralegals may assist attorneys in preparing for trial by organizing document binders, creating exhibit lists, or drafting settlement agreements. Some litigation paralegals may also help coordinate the logistics of attending the trial, including reserving office space, transporting exhibits and documents to the courtroom, and setting up computers and other equipment.
Paralegals use technology and computer software for managing and organizing the increasing amount of documents and data collected during a case. Many paralegals use computer software to catalog documents, and to review documents for specific keywords or subjects. Because of these responsibilities, paralegals must be familiar with electronic database management and be up to date on the latest software used for electronic discovery. Electronic discovery refers to all electronic materials that are related to a trial, such as emails, data, documents, accounting databases, and websites.
Paralegals may specialize in areas such as litigation, personal injury, corporate law, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate. In addition, experienced paralegals may assume supervisory responsibilities, such as overseeing team projects or delegating work to other paralegals.
Paralegals and legal assistants often work in teams with attorneys, fellow paralegals, and other legal support staff. They may also have frequent interactions with clients and third-party vendors.
Information on Paralegals from the U.S. Department of Labor website at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-2