Paralegal Certificate Program Curriculum

Accounting and Taxation

The course is an overview of the fundamental principles and concepts of financial accounting and taxation to provide a background and understanding of these concepts as used by paralegals in a law office. Focuses on the accounting cycle, payroll and basic concepts of taxation. Frequent reference to various ethical rules.

Administrative Law

This course studies the body of law created by administrative agencies in the form of rules, regulations, orders and decisions and will be an overview of employment law including workmen’s compensation, social security, ADA, and other issues related to employment.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

This course is designed to familiarize students to the informal method of bringing a case to resolution before trial. This class will examine the methods of ADR including mediation and arbitration. Students will learn how to file a case with the American Arbitration Association and follow through the arbitration process. Additionally, students will learn how to prepare for ADR, including settlement brochures and presentations, and their role in assisting at ADR. Students will also participate in a mock mediation.

Bankruptcy/Consumer Credit

This course is an overview of collection practices, including fair credit reporting, filing creditor claims in court, obtaining judgments and levying, as well as the rights of consumers in credit transactions will be taught. Students will also learn to interview bankruptcy clients, identify assets and debts and review bankruptcy documents.

Business Law

This course is an overview of all business and corporate law, including partnership, limited liability, bankruptcy, and rules particular to the Uniform Commercial Code.

Civil Litigation I

This course is a study of the principles of litigation and the rules of procedure for each court in the South Carolina system, including pleading, practice and discovery procedures. Taught by an attorney. Offered in the same term and required to be taken with Civil Litigation II.

Civil Litigation II

A hands on practical use of Civil Litigation. Taught by a paralegal. Offered in the same term and required to be taken with Civil Litigation I. This course is a study of the methods of investigating claims, interviewing and taking statements, collecting data and assembling and presenting evidence.

Communications for the Law Office*

This course is designed to prepare students to communicate effectively in a clear and concise style necessary in the business and legal community. A study of major concepts of verbal communication with a basic review of grammar, the course will also cover styles of business letters, memoranda, short reports, and oral reports. Emphasis will be placed on English proficiency, developing and delivering oral presentations, practicing recording and translation information, and developing interpersonal skills, including appropriate conversational language, listening skills, body language, and telephone skills.

Computers for the Law Office*

Students must have completed or exempted Introduction to Information Technology before taking this course. This course will introduce students to the general use of computers. Emphasis will be placed on the legal documents and forms that are used in the law office. Basic working knowledge of computers and some typing skills are essential.

Constitutional Law

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the United States Constitution and its Amendments. Students will study the allocation of powers, the system of checks and balances, and the concepts of individual rights, liberties, and protection. Through this course students will also develop a better understanding of the Bill of Rights.

Contracts

This course will enable students to understand the basic elements of a contract, to identify when an agreement becomes a legally enforceable contract, and to identify the legal consequences of a breach of the agreement. Each student will learn how to write simple contracts. Examples of everyday experiences will be incorporated, illustrating agreements that are contracts – including apartment leases, credit card transactions, premarital agreements, rent-to own agreements, and similar consumer transactions.

Criminal Litigation

This course will familiarize the students with the terminology and procedures used in state and federal criminal proceedings. Students will learn the concepts related to search and seizure, criminal discovery practices, and litigation techniques. They will learn to take a matter from initial investigative stages through jury verdict, on the government side, and through the perfection of an appeal, on the defense side.

Domestic Violence

This course will introduce the student to the social phenomena that provided the impetus for the enactment of modern domestic relations law and will provide the knowledge and skills necessary to fully understand domestic violence. It will examine the nature and consequences of domestic violence and the challenging role of the criminal justice system in redressing intra-familial crimes. Domestic violence has a tremendous impact on the legal profession. It permeates the practice of law in almost every field and the failure to fully understand domestic violence legal issues threatens the competency of individual lawyers, judges, and ultimately their paralegals.

Elder Law

This course will provide a concise and clear understanding of the law as it impacts the elderly. Elder law is one of the fastest growing areas in the legal field and has become the primary focus of many legal practices. This course will provide a comprehensive textural analysis of the related law and judicial decisions that interpret that law. It includes a comprehensive resource listing and copies of pertinent legal forms.

Employment Law

An overview of all major employment and labor topics with which a paralegal should be familiar. Areas to be included are laws on discrimination and harassment in the workplace, immigration, unemployment; and the Occupational Safety, Health Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Law Standards Act.

Environmental Law

This course is designed for the paralegal to obtain a basic knowledge of environmental laws and how they could impact client representation whether an individual, business, employee, organization, or land developer. A brief overview of regulatory law and statue developments will be conducted before surveying the major federal laws pertaining to protection of our land, air, water, natural resources, and endangered species. It covers related government enforcement authorities (federal and state) along with the legal accountability of both businesses and the individual. The objective of the course is to explore available research rationales and evidence gathering for this rapid growing body of law.

Family Law

This course is a study of the laws of marriage, divorce, annulment, separation, adoption, custody, and the laws dealing with children & juveniles.

Forensics

Crime Scenes Investigations, Criminalistics and The Law – This course will focus on how the crime scene should be investigated, searched and processed for evidence and the legal admissibility of these procedures. It will also cover the forensic value of physical evidence and the role of forensic science and criminalistics in evaluating evidence and presenting it in court. United States Supreme Court cases and other recent state and federal cases will expose the student to issues involving “implied” consent to search, what constitutes an “exigency” at a crime scene, forensics experts and testing, chain of custody, scientific testing, admissibility of blood spatter analysis, fingerprints, DNA and other crime scene evidence.

Health Law

This course is a study of the health care environment including health care laws and regulations; emphasis on the subpoena powers of the Federal and State court systems; identification of information sources to monitor health care legislation; identification of civil and criminal laws and the elements of specific laws involved with frequent health care litigation.

Information Technology in a Legal Office

Students are encouraged to take Introduction to Information Technology and Computers for the Law Office prior to this course. This course emphasizes the basic of Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Students will create basic business letters, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Advanced Information Technology in a Legal Office

Students are encouraged to take Introduction to Information Technology, Computers for the Law Office and Information Technology in a Legal Office prior to this course. This course emphasizes the advanced use of Microsoft Office: Advanced word processing including tables, long documents, advanced formatting, file format conversion, and integration with other office components; as well as advanced spreadsheet capabilities.

Internship*

The Internship requirement enables students to work in a law office under the supervision of an attorney or paralegal. There will be a checklist of suitable functions that a paralegal can perform. Internships will be established on an individual basis. Every effort will be made to allow students who work in the legal profession to make arrangements for supervision at their place of employment. A fee of $50.00 will be charged to the student for an internship.

Interviewing and Investigating

This course will provide the student with a practical approach that gives a strong foundation in interviewing and investigating skills as well as the civil, criminal, and non-litigation contexts in which they are utilized. Students will explore the critical connection between law and fact, how to engage in effective analysis, and the essentials of good communication skills. Students will also apply the principles including illustrations, examples, hypothetical’s, and Learn by Doing exercises that appear throughout text. Four case studies – a murder case, a personal injury case, a domestic relations case, and a real estate development project – supply realistic scenarios for applying the concepts.

Introduction to Paralegal Studies*

This is a required course and is a pre-requisite to all other legal specialty courses. This course, an introduction to the legal system and the paralegal profession, provides an overview of the nature of various law specialties. The course teaches the responsibilities of paralegals in the law office and outlines legal ethics for the attorney and paralegal. Legal terminology will also be covered.

Juvenile Law

History of juvenile justice system, role and responsibilities of juvenile justice personnel, administration and organization of the juvenile court services, juvenile disposition strategies, interrelationships between juvenile court and social service agencies.

Law Office Management

This course is designed to acquaint students with effective law office management and performance. It introduces students to an analysis of law practices, financial management, the use of the legal team, legal fees and billing of clients, client relationships, and general law office procedures, including those mandated by ethical rules and insurance requirements.

Legal Ethics*

This course will familiarize students with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Code of Judicial Conduct of the American Bar Association as well as the South Carolina Statutes. Emphasis will be placed on the ethics and legal responsibilities of the paralegal.

Legal Writing

Introduction to Paralegal Studies is a prerequisite to this course…Legal Research is recommended prior to taking this course. Students will be introduced to the concepts of legal reasoning and legal precedent. Students will learn how to prepare for and execute a legal research project including, analysis and synthesis of legal resources, verification of current case law and statutes, and proper citation of legal resources. Writing instruction will emphasize grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, word usage and analysis. Students will prepare an interoffice memorandum.

Legal Research*

Introduction to Paralegal Studies, Information Technology and/or Law Office Computing are prerequisites for this course. This course instructs students in techniques and procedures for legal research. Students will learn to use the law library to locate applicable laws, legal resources, and reference materials. Students will be introduced to computerized legal research and on-line sources of legal materials. Students will learn practical skills needed to find state and federal statutes, case law, identify precedents and trace the development of the law up to the present.

Professional Paralegal Job Search*

The student will gain knowledge of the profession and marketplace, as well as providing the “how to’s” on resume writing, Internet searches, interviews, evaluating and negotiating job offers, follow-up letters, and managing the first 100 days of the new job. Textbook provides email service for resume checking and evaluation with fast 72-hour turn-around, in addition to presenting many samples and tips on resume and letter writing. Course will also include interesting case studies in the lives of real paralegals in their daily work activities.

Probate

This course will instruct the student in the legal basis for probate administration. It includes a study of wills, intestacy, preparation of wills and the fundamentals of estate administration from opening through closing of an estate scenario.

Real Estate (Property Law)

This course instructs students in property ownership and transfer. Characteristics and formats for real property titles, mortgages, liens, and contracts of sale are included.

Real Estate (Title Search Part I and Part II)

Students will be introduced to the procedures involved in title examination, and will perform assigned title searches. Instruction includes demonstration of the interactions of probate law and civil litigation with title searching.

Spanish Communication Tools for Legal Professionals

This course will enhance participant’s knowledge of the legal field and provide basic instruction in essential skills of communicating in Spanish for non-Spanish speaking individuals. Emphasis will be placed on the ethics and legal responsibilities associated with such communication and the understanding of the different social and business customs.

Trial Evidence

This course will acquaint students with effective trial strategy by viewing evidentiary issues from the perspective of the trial judge. Course will follow the stages of a trial, from opening statement, to direct examination, cross-examination, and closing arguments. It will reflect the way judges and trial lawyers view evidence – using the “3 R’s” – relevant, reliable, and right – as its analytical framework.

Torts

This course instructs students in the classification and principles of S.C. tort (civil wrongs) law. It involves the study of intentional torts, negligence, standard of care, proximate cause, and defenses for negligence.

Victimology

An introduction to victims of crime, their roles as victims, their treatment by the Criminal Justice system, and their willingness to report crimes and to prosecute. Emphasis will be placed on the rights of the victim as well as victim compensation programs.

Web Development for the Legal Office

An introductory course in Web design and publishing. This course includes the most important topics of HTML and DHTML, from creating multimedia Web pages with hypertext links, tables, frames, and forms to using cascading style sheets and programming with JavaScript

* Denotes require course