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Paralegal Studies

The Paralegal Studies curriculum leads to the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. This curriculum provides students with a varied and general grounding in the practical skills necessary to be a paralegal along with a strong liberal arts background. The program is suitable for students seeking either to transfer to a four-year institution in a law-related program or to enter the work force as a paralegal, particularly in small to mid-sized law firms, businesses, government, and public and private agencies.

Community College of Philadelphia trains paralegals who must operate under the supervision of a licensed attorney and are prohibited from practicing law. This program has been approved by the American Bar Association.

Student Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this program graduates will be able to:

  • Work successfully as entry-level paralegals.
  • Apply ethical concepts to hypothetical examples and real-life situations.
  • Draft legal documents, conduct legal research both manually and through computer-assisted research and undertake the full scope of tasks assumed by entry-level paralegals.
  • Demonstrate legal analytical skills and legal writing skills.
  • Cultivate a supportive professional network and learn how to remain current in the legal profession.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of legal terminology in civil litigation and a variety of practice areas.
  • Demonstrate practical skills in a variety of practice areas.
  • Understand the role of technology in the modern law office and have practical experience using legal technology programs.

Program Entry Requirements:
New students are required to take the College’s placement tests at their time of entry.  Students who are identified as needing developmental course work must satisfactorily complete the appropriate English and mathematics courses as a part of their degree program.

Students transferring into the Paralegal Studies Program may transfer in up to thirty credits (one half of the credits required for an A.A.S. in Paralegal Studies) from other accredited institutions in accordance with the College’s general transfer policies. Of those thirty credits, the Paralegal Studies Program at Community College of Philadelphia will accept up to fifteen credits of Paralegal Studies courses in transfer from an ABA approved institution with the following conditions:

  1. PLS 111 and PLS 211 will not be accepted in transfer.
  2. Upon request, students who seek transfer credit for Paralegal courses must provide evidence indicating whether the Paralegal courses to be transferred were taken in a distance, hybrid or traditional classroom format in order to ensure that the ABA policy regarding limits on distance courses is met by all graduates.

Program of Study and Graduation Requirements:
A minimum of 60 credits, a grade of "C" or better in all Paralegal Studies courses and a grade point average of 2.0 are required for graduation. Certain courses required for graduation may be substituted with the approval of the program coordinator and the dean of Liberal Studies. Students whose behavior is viewed as inconsistent with professional standards may be dropped from the curriculum pending the results of a departmental hearing. All students are required to sign an integrity statement in all Paralegal Studies courses agreeing to abide by standards of ethics and integrity in all assignments and undertakings.

Students in the Paralegal Studies Program are advised that it is important to have current knowledge in order to successfully compete in today’s legal environment and are urged to complete all Paralegal Studies courses within five years of graduation. To ensure that graduates possess current knowledge and skills, the following requirements apply:

  • Because of the need to possess current knowledge of technology, PLS 115 (Legal Technology) must be taken within five years of graduation.
  • Any student who has taken Introduction to Paralegal Studies, (PLS 101), Civil Litigation, (PLS 121), Legal Research and Writing I, (PLS 111) and / or Legal Research and Writing II, (PLS 211) more than five academic years before his / her proposed graduation date must demonstrate current knowledge.  The student should meet with the Program Coordinator and develop a plan to demonstrate current knowledge and skills.

Accelerated Program:
Designed primarily for students who have already completed most or all of their general education requirements (either at the College or by transfer), the Paralegal Studies Accelerated Program sequences the ten Paralegal Studies courses required for graduation. Below is a sample schedule.
(Early fall, mid-fall, spring and summer)
PLS 101 Introduction to Paralegal Studies
PLS 111 Legal Research & Writing I or PLS elective
PLS 121 Civil Litigation I

Session Two
(Fall, mid-fall, spring and summer)
PLS 115 Legal Technology
Two paralegal electives (TBA) or PLS 111 and one paralegal elective

Session Three
(Spring, summer and fall)
PLS 211 Legal Research & Writing II
PLS elective (TBA)
PLS elective (TBA)

Courses in the Accelerated Program are offered one night per week with some online options. Students may take courses in both the Accelerated Program and the regular semester format provided there are no conflicts.

Internship:
A legal internship is offered to students enrolled in the program who have completed at least 36 credits toward the degree and who have attained a grade point average of at least 2.5 at that time. The internship is a 3-credit course requiring the student to perform without pay at least 120 hours of paralegal tasks in a legal employment setting approved by the Program Coordinator. Students who receive a grade of less than "C" are ineligible to retake this course. Those students who are ineligible for or who do not select the internship will be required to take another course from the concentration courses selections.

Law Library And Computers:
The College Library maintains a complete law library which exceeds American Bar Association guidelines. Students are also exposed in class to computer-assisted legal research sources, such as online databases, the Internet and legal materials available on CD-ROM and are introduced to discipline-specific legal software in all advanced courses.

Paralegal Studies Course Sequence

Course Number and Name Prerequisites and Corequisites Credits Gen Ed Req.

First Semester

ENGL 101 – English Composition I   3 ENGL 101
MATH 118 - Intermediate Algebra or higher   3 Mathematics
PLS 101 –Introduction to Paralegal Studies   3  
CIS 103 – Applied Computer Technology   3 Tech Comp
Social Science Elective   3 Social Sciences

Second Semester

ENGL 102 – The Research Paper ENGL 101 with a grade of "C" or better 3 ENGL 102, Info Lit
PLS 111 – Legal Research & Writing I PLS 101 3 Writing Intensive, Interpretive Studies
PLS 115 – Legal Technology CIS 103 & PLS 101 3  
Natural Science Elective   3/4 Natural Science
PLS 121 – Civil Litigation I PLS 101 3  

Third Semester

Social Science Elective   3  
Humanities Elective1   3 Humanities
PLS 211 – Legal Research & Writing II PLS 111, ENGL 102 3  
Concentration Course – Select one from the following2:   3  
PLS 221 – Civil Litigation II PLS 121    
PLS 231 – Family Law PLS 111, PLS 121    
PLS 241 – Tort Law PLS 121    
PLS 251 – Real Estate Law for Paralegals PLS 111    
PLS 255 – Business Organizations for Paralegals PLS 111, ENGL 101    
PLS 261 – Wills, Trusts & Estate Administration PLS 111    
PLS 265 – Intellectual Property PLS 111    
PLS 271 – Bankruptcy Law PLS 121    
PLS 275 – Employment Law PLS 111    
PLS 281 – Environmental Law PLS 111    
PLS 285 – Immigration Law PLS 121    
PLS 295 – Legal Internship PLS 111, PLS 121, completion of 36 credits and GPA of 2.5 or better    
JUS 241 – Criminal Law JUS 101 or PLS 101    
Concentration Course – Select one from the list above   3  

Fourth Semester

General Elective   3  
General Elective   3  
Concentration Elective – Select one from the list above   3  
Concentration Elective – Select one from the list above   3  
Concentration Elective – Select one from the list above   3  

Minimum Credits Needed to Graduate: 60

 

General Education Requirements
All General Education requirements are met through required courses (as indicated above) except for the American/Global Diversity requirement. Therefore, in order to graduate, students in this program must choose one course that is designated American/Global Diversity. The same course may be used to fulfill both requirements. View the courses that fulfill all degree requirements and receive a more detailed explanation of the College's general education requirements to help in your selection.

1 See a Paralegal Studies academic advisor.
2 The curriculum has been designed so that any five of the following 13 courses will provide a coherent course of study in preparation for employment as a paralegal.

For More Information Contact:
The Division of Liberal Studies, Room BR-21, 1700 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Telephone (215) 751-8450; or the College Information Center (215) 751-8010.