College of DuPage

Paralegal Studies 1100:
Introduction to Paralegal Studies

 

Statue of Lady Justice holding a set of scales and a sword.Do find yourself fascinated by the law and the legal system?  Are you drawn to law-based television shows, plays, and movies?  Do you like engaging in analysis and problem-solving?  Do you like working independently, but as part of a team?  Do you like settings where rules are clearly stated and followed? Are you organized and detail-oriented?  Do you have good written and oral communication skills? Do you have current computer skills, or are you willing to learn them? Do you like helping people? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then a paralegal career may be just what you are looking for!

Paralegals assist attorneys in a variety of legal settings.  They help draft and review contracts, assist with real estate transactions, prepare court pleadings and other documents, conduct legal and factual research, locate and interview witnesses, assist in pre-trial and trial preparation, set up partnerships, and incorporate businesses.  Although they cannot give legal advice or provide legal services directly to the public, they often have a great deal of client contact, as they can answer routine questions involving factual matters that attorneys may be unavailable to answer.  They always work under the supervision of an attorney. 

Employment of paralegals is expected to grow by 18 percent between 2010-2020, according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is considered about as fast as average for all occupations.  According to the BLS, this is because employers are trying to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers.  Paralegals are performing a wider variety of duties than ever before, making them more useful to businesses.  However, because many people are attracted to the paralegal field, the job market is competitive. Experienced, formally trained paralegals have the best job prospects.

In Introduction to Paralegal Studies, you will gain an understanding of the paralegal profession, including ethical responsibilities.  In addition, you will get an overview of a variety of practice areas that paralegals work in, such as civil litigation, contract law, family law, real estate law, and corporate law.  You will have an opportunity to draft the kinds of documents that paralegals create.  You will engage in discussion board activities concerning the presence of the legal system in everyday current events. Finally, you will learn a variety of legal tips and tidbits that will broaden your understanding of the legal system.

Many students comment that at the end of the course, in addition to the subjects noted above, they learned important life skills – about what to look for when signing a contract, or buying property, or making a will, or being involved in a lawsuit.  Some students pursue paralegal studies as a way to reach their long-term goal of becoming an attorney. So, whether you want to learn the basics of the paralegal profession, gain a greater understanding of the law, or broaden your knowledge of important life skills - you should take this class!