A Guide to Common Paralegal Studies Classes

If you’re enrolled in a paralegal studies program or if you’re considering it, you probably have some questions about what you’ll learn in your classes. Of course, you could also have some inaccurate beliefs. Let’s face it – television shows that focus on legal matters are interesting and they can be fun to watch. Yet, they’re not always accurate. In this post, you’re going to learn a little bit about what you can expect to learn in your paralegal studies classes. 

Introduction to Civil Procedure

This may also be called a civil law class. In this class, you’re going to learn the basics of the civil law system. You’ll learn about civil law terms as well as how the civil court runs and how both of these differ from the criminal system. For example, the plaintiff in a civil suit could be a private citizen or a business. It could even be a government agency. However, the plaintiff for a criminal matter is either the state or federal government. You’ll also learn how to find sources of law, how to read a case, and how to brief a case.

Criminal Law

Criminal law always excites paralegal students. You’ll learn a lot. You’ll learn how the Constitution affects your criminal justice system. You’ll learn about search and seizure, stop and frisk, due process (and its importance), and about how criminal charges are levied. You’ll also learn common defenses to criminal charges.

Contracts

Contracts is an important class for paralegal studies. It can help you even if you decide to leave the legal industry. Contracts are used on a regular basis in businesses, with financial institutions, and in real estate. Having a firm understanding of how a valid contract is formed is essential. You’ll learn the elements required for basic contracts, when your contract must conform to the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code), and who can and can’t enter into a contract. Even if you’d rather focus on becoming a law firm administrator, an understanding of contracts is crucial.

Wills, Trusts, & Estates

In wills, trusts, and estates, you’ll learn about the requirements for drafting a valid will and about basic trusts. You’ll also learn about what happens to a person’s belongings and to their minor children if they die without a will. Your instructor will likely have you find a sample of a valid will in your state and maybe even have you draft one for practice.

Legal Research & Writing

Paralegal studies programs usually have two legal research and writing courses (unless you’re taking a post-graduate certificate program). During Legal Research and Writing I, you’ll also be taught how to improve your writing to make the most impact. You’ll also become familiar with the construction of basic legal documents such as complaints, responses, and discovery documents and how to conduct basic legal research. It’s very important that you go into both classes with an open mind and without thinking that your writing skills are perfect. Legal writing is much different from other forms of writing. Grammar and other technical skills are also more important in the legal field.

Where Can You Find More Information on Paralegal Classes and What You’ll Learn?

Obviously, this post did not contain a full list of courses that you’ll take when you’re working toward your paralegal degree. You can find more information about paralegal classes you’ll take along with what you can expect from each class from the program you’re enrolled in or interested in. Most paralegal studies program post a synopsis of each class on their website.

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