Paralegal

Overview

Program Description

The overall program goal of the Paralegal Associate in Applied Science Degree is to prepare students for careers as paralegals working under the supervision of lawyers.  In addition, it is the aim of the program to provide students with knowledge of legal concepts, procedures and essential skills required to serve the needs of a complex legal and business community by assessing existing courses and updating and/or developing new courses that meet the future needs of the profession. The Program emphasizes organizational, interpersonal, analytical and technological skills that support students in their professional pursuits and provides a broad range of skills for positions in a variety of legal settings such as private law firms, government agencies, community action agencies, corporate legal departments, insurance companies, estate and trust departments of large banks, or real estate and title companies.  The curriculum consists of a combination of legal practice concentration, law-related, and general education courses.  Students seeking a career as a paralegal must be able to write clearly, communicate effectively, be proficient with office computer systems, and possess a high degree of motivation and analytical reasoning capability.

The Paralegal Program promotes ethical awareness and professional responsibility, and encourages development of the Paralegal occupation. 

Career Opportunities   

The paralegal field continues as one of the fastest growing professions.  The American Bar Association and Washington State Bar Association recognize the benefit of two-year paralegal programs.  Job opportunities are continuing to increase and expand into new areas.  Paralegal positions open in private law firms, corporate legal departments, insurance companies, estate and trust departments of large banks, real estate and title insurance companies, nonprofit private and public organizations and professional trade associations.  Job opportunities in the public sector are available in community legal services programs, offices of public defenders, prosecutors, and attorney generals, government agencies and the court system. Earnings vary depending on the size of the community, geographic location, size, and business of the employing agency, and the paralegal’s education, background, and work experience. See Business » Business Administration for more career and employment information.

Program Outcomes

South Puget Sound Community College believes that all students need to develop a broad range of abilities that will make them more effective in their professional pursuits and enhance their capacity to relate well to others in their daily lives. 

At the completion of the Paralegal Program, the successful student will be able to:

  • Exhibit critical thinking skills in analyzing legal processes and problems
  • Analyze, synthesize and communicate information about legal issues and processes in writing and in oral presentations
  • Use technological applications to efficiently produce, manage, and submit accurate legal documents
  • Recognize and apply reason to ethical issues in business, including the legal implications of business practices
  • Develop and practice appropriate and relevant interaction skills across personal, academic and professional settings

In addition, students who complete the program will demonstrate the following skills standards:

  • Engaging in legal and factual investigation and research using traditional and technology-based tools
  • Briefing and analyzing legal issues in writing
  • Understanding the court system and the process of civil litigation from case inception through trial and post-trial matters
  • Using a variety of current computer applications to efficiently produce, manage, and analyze legal documents 
  • Demonstrating effective communication with attorneys, clients, court personnel, and co-workers, orally and in writing.
  • Effectively interviewing clients or witnesses

Program Requirements

An Associate in Applied Sciences degree will be awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 94 credits in courses numbered 100 or above. All core and general education requirements must be met.  This degree includes a minimum of 27 general education credits.   Additional credits are selected as electives.

Program Information

Admission: The program begins each Fall quarter.

Legal core courses are offered in the evening.  It is recommended that ENGL& 101 and a computer course be taken prior to Fall quarter.

Length of Program: Because legal courses are offered only in the evening, program completion may require nine quarters.

Special Program Note: Only an attorney can counsel others as to their legal rights or responsibilities.  Non-lawyer assistants act under the supervision of a lawyer in compliance with Washington State Court Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) 5.3, General Rule (GR) 24.

Additional Program Information

Educational Plan

Paralegal

Associate in Applied Science Degree
99-106 credits

Core Requirements

OFTEC108 Introduction to Microsoft Office 3 Credits Search Schedule
Introduction of major software application packages as tools in business. The following operating and applications software will be covered: Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. OFTEC 101 (formerly CIS 101) recommended or ability to type by touch at least 20 words a minute. This course was formerly known as CIS 108. Prerequisite: None.
OFTEC160 Business English 5 Credits Search Schedule
Study of language skills applied to writing and to transcription; punctuation, spelling, number usage, hyphens, word usage, plurals and possessives, capitalization, all parts of speech, word division, proofreading, and editing practice. This course was formerly known as CIS 106. Prerequisite: ENGL 098 or eligible for ENGL& 101.
LEGL 151 Introduction to Legal Systems and Procedures 3 Credits Search Schedule
History of the law; structure and jurisdiction of the courts; ethical standards; introduction to case analysis and use of precedents, legislative processes. Prerequisite: ENGL 095 (formerly ENGL/READ 096/097) and MATH 090 or placement test.
LEGL 152 Civil Procedure 5 Credits Search Schedule
Federal and state courts, which court has subject matter jurisdiction; how jurisdiction is obtained over persons or property; pretrial procedures; and trial procedure. Prerequisite: None.
LEGL 153 Technology in the Law Office 3 Credits Search Schedule
Duties of paralegals from complaint to trial or mediation. Students will gain experience retrieving, organizing, and maintaining documents; docketing and tickling, methods to ensure timelines of pleadings and other actions; use of database and full-text retrieval systems; and time-keeping for proper billing of clients. Prerequisite: LEGL 151 and 152. OFTEC 136 (formerly CIS 136) and OFTEC 141 (formerly CIS 141).
LEGL 154 Tort Law 5 Credits Search Schedule
Concepts associated with harm to persons or property, consisting of intentional torts, negligence, or strict liability. Prerequisite: LEGL 151 and 152 and 156 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 155 Fundamentals of Legal Writing and Case Analysis 5 Credits Search Schedule
Fundamentals of legal analysis and writing in order to apply statutes, administrative rules, and case law in legal writing and oral advocacy. Prerequisite: LEGL 151 and 152 and OFTEC 160 (formerly CIS 106) or instructor's permission. ENGL& 101 (formerly WRIT 101) recommended.
LEGL 156 Legal Research 5 Credits Search Schedule
Fundamentals of legal research; introduction to law library; location of statutes and case law; blue book citation techniques. Prerequisite: Legal 151, 152 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 157 Criminal Law 5 Credits Search Schedule
Focus on substantive and procedural aspects of criminal law in Washington. Emphasis is on criminal law practice including principles underlying the definition of crime, culpability requirements, legal defenses, principles of justification and excuse and theories of criminal law and the relationship between doctrines and the various justifications for imposition of punishment. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach in exploring Washington and federal constitutional and statutory law and addresses the principles and practical applications of evidence law and the use and admission of evidence in state and federal courts. Topics also include the paralegal's role in working with attorneys and clients and the role of legal ethics in criminal law. Prerequisite: None.
LEGL 158 Investigation and Interviewing 3 Credits Search Schedule
Fundamentals of fact investigation with practical application through a case study; outline preparation, interviewing witnesses; examination of affirmative and rebuttal evidence; role of pretrial discovery during investigation. Prerequisite: LEGL 151, 152, 155 and 156 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 201 Contracts and Commercial Transactions 5 Credits Search Schedule
Principles of contract law; liability; offer and acceptance; consideration; statute of frauds; contract remedies; the parol evidence rule; performance of contracts; conditions; effect of changed circumstances; and other issues related to contract formation and enforcement. Focus on Washington law regarding the legal environment of contract law with topics including agency, employment, consumer, personal and real property, landlord/tenant, and bankruptcy. Prerequisite: LEGL 154 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 202 Legal Ethics 5 Credits Search Schedule
Introduction to the Washington State Rules of Professional Conduct, American Bar Association Model Rules, Washington State Bar Association Ethics Opinions, and Washington Supreme Court Decisions and their practical applications for the paralegal. Prerequisite: LEGL 154 and 157 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 251 Civil Litigation 5 Credits Search Schedule
Evaluation of a civil case for trial or settlement. Drafting of pleadings and discovery. Prerequisite: LEGL 154 and 155 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 253 Domestic Relations 3 Credits Search Schedule
An overview of family law issues, including cohabitation, premarital agreements, dissolution of marriage and legal separation actions, motions and interim orders, child support, parenting plans, paternity proceedings, adoptions, and modifications. Prerequisite: LEGL 155 and 156 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 259 Career Readiness for the Paralegal 1 Credit Search Schedule
Preparation for entry into paralegal practice, including resume building, writing sample, interview techniques, and culminating in contacts with potential public legal employers. Prerequisite: LEGL 155.

Electives
Choose at least two (2) courses from the electives list below:

BUS& 201 Business Law 5 Credits Search Schedule
A study of the American legal system; includes the Constitution, legislative, executive and judiciary branches. Examines system structure, concepts, procedures, terminology, ethical principles with an emphasis on principles and procedures applicable in the context of business contracts. Covers definitions, formation, interpretation and enforcement within the legal field. This course was formerly known as BUS 171, Business Law I. Prerequisite: Eligible to take ENGL& 101.
BUS 202 Business Law II 3 Credits Search Schedule
Expands and develops principles of American substantive and procedural law learned in BUS& 201 with a concentrated focus on specific areas of law of particular importance to accountants and other business professionals working in legal areas: accountants' responsibilities and liability; the Uniform Commercial Code relating to sales; negotiable instruments; secured transactions and banking; real estate; insurance; estate planning; bailments; intellectual property; bankruptcy; labor law; and consumer law. This course was formerly BUS 172. Prerequisite: BUS& 201 (formerly BUS 171).
LEGL 101 Legal Procedures 3 Credits Search Schedule
Introduction to legal terminology, history of the law, ethics, structure and jurisdiction of the court systems, citation forms and the law library, dockets, reminder systems, organizational and procedural perspective of the law office, and preparing, recording, and filing legal documents. Prerequisite: None.
LEGL 102 Legal Forms 4 Credits Search Schedule
Computer production of legal pleadings and documents in the various areas of the law. Emphasis is on using the state and local court rules, document accuracy, and court compliant formatting. Students should be able to keyboard 20 words per minute by touch. Prerequisite: OFTEC 136(formerly CIS 136).
LEGL 105 Civil, Criminal and Domestic Law 5 Credits Search Schedule
Legal terminology and introductory information in the areas of civil, criminal, and domestic law and appeals. Prerequisite: None.
OFTEC136 Microsoft Word I 5 Credits Search Schedule
Overview of MS Word for Windows software using a personal computer. Basic document creating, editing, and assembly; text formatting, tables, columns, macros, templates, styles, and mail merge. The ability to keyboard by touch 20 words a minute recommended. This course was formerly known as CIS 136. Prerequisite: OFTEC 108 (formerly CIS 108) or OFTEC 100 (formerly CIS 100).
OFTEC141 Excel 5 Credits Search Schedule
An introduction to Excel for worksheet applications. Creating simple worksheets using numbers, dates, text, formulas, desktop features, formatting, charting, printing, and file handling. Techniques include copying, moving, relative, and absolutes cell references, using functions in formulas, file linking, multiple windows, and range naming. More advanced topics such as database and macros will also be introduced. This course was formerly known as CIS 141. Prerequisite: OFTEC 108 (formerly CIS 108) or OFTEC 100 (formerly CIS 100) and MATH 094.
LEGL 252 Public Law and Administration 5 Credits Search Schedule
Analysis of laws and procedures applicable to governmental agencies, including administrative adjudicative and rule making procedures, conflicts of interest and appearance of fairness doctrines, open public meetings, and public documents. Prerequisite: LEGL 155 and 156 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 255 Estate Planning 3 Credits Search Schedule
Role of participants in the administration of an estate. Use of forms and proper court proceedings. Laws of succession in a testate or intestate will. Validity requirements of a will and how revoked. Uniform probate code; tax consideration of trusts, probates, and wills. Prerequisite: LEGL 151, 152, 155 and 156 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 256 Real Estate and Property Law 3 Credits Search Schedule
Possessory interest in lands, rights and remedies of the new possessor, the duties and obligation of a landowner and a tenant. Prerequisite: LEGL 151, 152, 155 and 156 or instructor's permission.
LEGL 257 Corporations and Partnerships 3 Credits Search Schedule
How corporations and partnerships are formed and the duties, obligations and remedies of persons dealing with the corporation or partnership. Prerequisite: LEGL 151, 152, 155 and 156 or instructor's permission.

Associate in Arts General Education Electives
IF MATH& 107 is chosen to satisfy the Computation requirement it will apply as 5 of the 12 required credits for this category.  See general education requirements.  
Total General Education Electives 12-15

General Education Requirements
Communication: 

ENGL&101 English Composition I 5 Credits Search Schedule
Develops writing skills by focusing on strategies and techniques writers use to convey ideas, evaluate information, make a point, and participate in multiple discourse communities. Emphasizes both the process and the product of writing. This course was formerly known as WRIT 101, College Writing I. Prerequisite: Appropriate placement test scores OR appropriate completion of ENGL 095, ENGL 095X, or ENGL 098 OR concurrent enrollment in ENGL 110 with instructor's permission.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, GER-CIS, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION, AAS-COMMUNICATION: Reading/Writing, AAS-READING-WRITING

Additional Communication: 
Choose one of the following
CMST&101 Introduction to Communication 5 Credits Search Schedule
Investigates the theory and practice of intrapersonal, interpersonal, small group, organizational, intercultural, and public speech communication. Human communication processes and barriers are explored. Development of communication skills useful for workplace, family, friendships, educational, and community contexts. Prerequisite: None.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION, AA-AAS-T
-OR-
CMST 105 Introduction to Online Journalism 5 Credits Search Schedule
Introduction to two forms of mass media writing: writing to inform (print and online) and writing to persuade (public relations, advertising and business). Newsgathering and news writing techniques including interviews, news judgment, story development, use of basic resource material, writing style and editing. Development of skills in audio and visual storytelling. Explores relationship between news, newsmakers, citizen journalists, social media networking, and ethics. Computer/word processing skills are essential to being successful in this course. This course was formerly known as MCOM 101, Introduction to Journalism. Prerequisite: Eligible for ENGL& 101 (formerly WRIT 101).
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, HUMANITIES, NURSING HUMANITIES, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION, AA-AAS-T-HUMANITIES
-OR-
CMST&220 Public Speaking 5 Credits Search Schedule
Introduction to oral communication theory and to public speaking/listening practice as applied to a variety of settings and audiences. Students will learn to verbally inform and/or demonstrate and persuade an audience using a variety of speech types. Covers speech preparation, critical listening and thinking, and individual and group presentation techniques. This course was formerly known as SPCH 101, Introduction to Public Speaking. Prerequisite: None.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION
-OR-
CMST&230 Small Group Communication 5 Credits Search Schedule
Studies communication in small groups to help students understand group processes and to be effective participants in problem-solving groups at home, in the community, and at work. Develops skills in decision-making, creative and critical listening and thinking, interpersonal and intercultural communication, conflict management, and leadership as applied to small groups. This course was formerly known as SPCH 115. Prerequisite: None.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, AAS-HUMAN RELATIONS, GER-CIS, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION
-OR-
CMST 260 Communication and Conflict 5 Credits Search Schedule
Investigates interpersonal communication conflict theory and participates in class activities to build skills. Study of communication processes and strategies applicable to conflict in family, friend, school, work, and community relationships. Examines how communication patterns and behaviors contribute to conflict, escalation, destructive and constructive management approaches, resolution, and reconciliation. Prerequisite: Eligible for ENGL& 101.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION
-OR-
ENGL&235 Technical Writing 5 Credits Search Schedule
The study of effective technical and professional communication. Development of skills in proposal writing, technical report writing, business correspondence, oral presentations, online communication, group problem solving, professional portfolio development and basic research techniques. This course was formerly known as TCOM 106, Technical and Professional Communication. Prerequisite: ENGL& 101 (formerly WRIT 101). Word processing skills recommended.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, GER-CIS, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION

Computation
Choose one of the following
BUS 104 Business Math 5 Credits Search Schedule
Emphasis on solving practical problems in business, including percentages, payroll, simple and compound interest, annuities, discounts, markups, using a calculator. Prerequisite: MATH 094 or higher with a grade of "C" or better and eligible for ENGL& 101.
Distribution: AAS, AAS-COMPUTATION
-OR-
MATH&107 Math in Society 5 Credits Search Schedule
Survey of mathematical topics presenting mathematics as an art in its own right and as a tool for understanding the world around us. Designed for non-science majors. Specific topics may be drawn from geometry, number theory, set theory, and the history of mathematics. This course was formerly known as MATH 107, Math for Liberal Arts. Prerequisite: Appropriate placement test score or with a "C" or better in MATH 097, MATH 099, or equivalent.
Distribution: AA, AS, DTA, NATURAL SCIENCE, QUANTITATIVE, AA-AAS-T-QUANTITATIVE, AA-AAS-T-NATURAL SCIENCE

Human Relations
Choose one of the following
CMST&210 Interpersonal Communication: Diversity 5 Credits Search Schedule
Investigation into the theory and practice of interpersonal communication. An experiential approach is used as students participate in a variety of class activities designed to apply and build skills through the speech communication process. Examines how a diversity of communication styles can affect formation and maintenance of school, co-worker, family, friendship and romantic relationships. This course was formerly known as SPCH 103. Prerequisite: None.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, DIVERSITY, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, AAS-HUMAN RELATIONS, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION
-OR-
CMST 240 Intercultural Communication: Diversity 5 Credits Search Schedule
The study of intercultural communication theory and cultural adaptation processes, and the development of skills in transmitting and receiving oral and written messages within a cross-cultural context. Covers selecting a communication style and strategies appropriate to a specific audience and setting. Examines how differences in cultural background influence communication patterns in families, communities, schools, and the workplace. This course was formerly known as SPCH 105. Prerequisite: ENGL& 101 eligible or instructor's permission.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, COMMUNICATION, DIVERSITY, HUMANITIES, NURSING HUMANITIES, AAS-SPEAKING-LISTENING, AAS-HUMAN RELATIONS, AA-AAS-T-COMMUNICATION, AA-AAS-T-HUMANITIES
-OR-
HUM 121 Multicultural America,Past to Present: Diversity 5 Credits Search Schedule
Focuses on the history, culture, and contributions of various ethnic groups in the United States and the construction of "American" identity through power and privilege, past to present. Students gain knowledge of other groups' history and cultural heritage and develop skills in intercultural communications and critical thinking for education, community and work, environments. Meets Diversity Course Criteria. Prerequisite: Eligible for ENGL& 101.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, DIVERSITY, HUMANITIES, NURSING HUMANITIES, AAS-HUMAN RELATIONS, AA-AAS-T-HUMANITIES
-OR-
PSYC 116 Psychology of Human Relations: Diversity 5 Credits Search Schedule
An introduction to the study of human relations, self-concept and the internal influences on one's thoughts, feelings and behaviors. An examination of the external and sociocultural influences on our personal and professional relationships. Prerequisite: Eligible for ENGL& 101.
Distribution: AA, AAS, AS, DTA, DIVERSITY, SOCIAL SCIENCE, NURSING SOCIAL SCIENCE, AAS-HUMAN RELATIONS, AA-AAS-T-SOCIAL SCIENCE

Effective Catalog Year 2017-2018, Revised June 16, 2015