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					              Co-op Work Experience in Legal Assisting
                           PLA 1949




                                              Course Syllabus




                              Manatee Community College
                             Bradenton and Venice Campuses




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                   DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES
                          MANATEE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

                  PLA 1949 CO-OP WORK EPXERIENCE IN LEGAL ASSISTING

Instructor’s Name:                  Barry Puett
Office Location:                    9-103/18-201
Office Hours:                       MTWTh
Telephone:                          (941) 752-5656
Email Address:                      puettb@mccfl.edu
Webpage:                            http://faculty.mccfl.edu/puettb/home.htm

COURSE DESCRIPTION

PLA 1949 Co-op Work Experience I in Legal Assisting (1-3) (A.A./A.S.) Four, eight, or twelve hours of
volunteer or work experience per week are expected depending on the credit hour requirements. Recommended
prerequisite: PLA 2114 and/or permission of the instructor or program manager. This work-study course reinforces
education and professional growth in a student’s academic major through coordinated field experiences. The
student, instructor, and work site supervisor work together to determine specific learning objectives for each student.
The student is then evaluated based on documentation of satisfactory completion of the learning objectives and work
assignments. Cooperative Education courses document supervised work experience within the student’s major.
These hours are not transferable as upper level internships, practicums, or clinical practice. The credit will count
toward electives in some A.A. and A.S. degrees. Contact the departments or universities for specific credit
information.


COURSE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

The student, at the successful completion of this course, should be able to:

1.   Demonstrate the ability to follow a contracted learning experience
2.   Demonstrate the ability to communicate with instructor and the site supervisor to develop a functional student
     contract.
3.   Demonstrate the ability to follow schedules and instructions.
4.   Plan and complete a summary report of progress made in all contract areas.
5.   Plan and complete a summary report of progress made on objectives assigned.
6.   Record events and transactions in journal form.
7.   Demonstrate professionalism by following a schedule, attending required meetings and submitting timely,
     completed assignments.


GRADING POLICY: This course is graded on participation in a work experience or research project, supervisor
evaluations, journal and term paper as described under Assignments below. Grading is A-F based on college
performance standards.

WITHDRAWAL POLICY: A student may withdraw from any course without the academic penalty of an “F” grade
by midpoint in the semester as listed in the Manatee Community College Calendar. A student in a mini-semester
course may withdraw without the academic penalty of an “F” grade anytime before one half (50 percent) of the class
meetings are concluded. MCC encourages the student to discuss the withdrawal with the instructor prior to
withdrawing.
Withdrawals after midpoint will be granted only if a student demonstrates major verifiable extenuating circumstances
clearly beyond the student’s control. All such requests must be made directly to the Dean of Educational Services,
who has the final approval/disapproval authority.

Effective Fall 1997, a student will be permitted a maximum of three attempts per course. An “attempt” is defined as
registration in a class after the end of the registration period. Upon the third attempt, a student cannot be withdrawn
and will receive a grade for that course.

A student should take responsibility for initiating the withdrawal procedure. A change of registration form should be
obtained from the Office of Educational Services (located in the Student Services Building on the Bradenton
Campus and in the Administration Building on the South Campus), completed by the student, signed by the
instructor and returned to the Office of Educational Services. If this procedure is not followed, a grade of “F” may be
recorded for the student and calculated in the grade point average.

Prior to midpoint, a faculty member has the prerogative to withdraw a student for excessive absences, excessive
tardiness, academic misconduct any other similar reason approved by the appropriate Division Director. Such
withdrawals prior to midpoint will be recorded as “W”.

If an “F” is entered, it will be recorded on the permanent record and calculated as “F” in the grade point average.

All withdrawal policy statements apply to part-time as well as full-time credit and load hour students.

Check the current MCC catalog or the MCC website at www.mccfl.edu for the withdrawal deadline for
this semester.

PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism is the use of ideas, facts, opinions, illustrative material, data, direct or indirect
wording of another scholar and/or writer – professional or student – without giving proper credit. Explusion,
suspension, or any lesser penalty may be imposed for plagiarism. The fai8lure to abide by these regulations will
result in at least a failure grade on the individual assignment, and could result in more serious penalties at the
discretion of the instructor and the college.

STANDARDS OF CONDUCT: Students are expected to abide by all Lancer Student Handbook guidelines.

LATE ASSIGNMENTS: You are all in professional training. In the Legal Profession there are no excuses for
missed deadlines, failure to appear at hearings, lack of preparation or failure to read footnotes. In order to assist in
this development I will decide whether a late assignment meets the requirements of excusable neglect as defined
under Florida Law. This may require research into the question by the student so that they may effectively argue the
point.

JOURNAL: The work experience or research project requires a minimum of 192 hours documented in a journal
with dates and time periods detailed. The journal must be turned in at the end of the semester with the final paper.

Department Chair Contact Info: If you have any problems with your grades or professor, it is college policy to
first discuss the problem with your professor. If the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction, the next step is to
communicate the problem with the Chair of the Department.

Social and Behavioral Sciences Department Chair:
Cynthia Reynolds
Bradenton Campus
Building 9 Room 107
Telephone: 752-5314
E-mail: Reynolc@mccfl.edu
ASSIGNMENTS

Assignment 1
Within the first two weeks of the semester, the student must locate a placement for work experience or select and
propose a research project.

A.   Work Experience
     If the student chooses work experience these guidelines should be followed: Student should take the time to
     reflect on his/her goals in employment. Some students want to work in law offices; if so, the student should
     consider in what capacity they would like to work. Small law offices often need a combination receptionist,
     legal secretary, paralegal and office manager. These jobs offer few fringe benefits at first, but with experience
     in all levels, can lead to a very responsible position with good benefits. Small law office placements are good
     experience for a person who wants to be the total office support for an attorney or small group of attorneys. On
     the other hand, larger law offices offer more possibility of specialization, and students should choose an office
     with the specialization that interests them most. A good source for specialists to contact for volunteering time
     are the yellow pages of the telephone book.

     Still other choices are public agencies, public interest law offices or even human services organizations which
     advocate or are dedicated to a specific mission. Again, public office listings in the telephone book are a good
     place to start. Public offices or non-profit organizations exist on city, county, state and federal levels. A
     human services directory for your community will also list advocacy groups.

     Finally, private businesses need skilled legal workers. Banks, insurance companies, title companies, and all
     corporations all have a need for legal advice and many have in-house counsel who welcome volunteer help.

     Students should spend some time thinking about what experience and skills are needed to achieve the job they
     ultimately want. All time must be journalized even if spent in this sort of reflection.

     When the idea for where the student wants to be placed is formed, the student should contact the professor and
     discuss their choice for guidance in placement.

B.   Research Projects
     Students who wish to perform research should contact the professor to discuss ideas for projects. The professor
     always has a list of projects and research papers can be used for scholarship applications, contests, or writing
     samples for later employment.

Assignment 2
Contact professor to discuss your project and get approval.

Assignment 3
Within the FIRST THREE WEEKS OF THE SEMESTER, write a contract proposal demonstrating:
1. That you have read this syllabus or otherwise know the requirements for the course,
2. That you are aware of the 192 minimum hour requirement,
3. Describing your planned activities, and
4. That you know you must submit your journal and term paper in order to get a grade.

SUBMIT THIS CONTRACT PROPOSAL TO YOUR PROFESSOR BY THE END OF THE THIRD WEEK.

Assignment 4
Detach the evaluation forms included in this packet and have them filled out by your supervisor at work or research
at the end of 6 and 12 weeks. Two evaluations, dated and signed by your supervisor must be submitted for your final
grade to be issued.
Assignment 5 – Term Paper
This packet contains a suggested outline for your paper. Select the parts relevant to your work experience and
compose the paper. Papers are normally 5-8 pages in length. Manatee Community College especially appreciates
feedback on the quality of your coursework and whether the program curriculum prepared you adequately for the
workplace.

Assignment 6
Submit journal, evaluations and term paper to the professor by the last day of class in the semester for which you
registered.


Common Questions

Q. Is it okay to get paid for my internship?
A. Yes, but certainly not required.

Q. Can I get credit for work I have done in the past?
A. Only if it is recent enough to meet the intent of the course and is relevant to your career plans.

Q. What if I have no idea what I want to do?
A. Call your professor immediately for help.

Q. What if I can’t find a placement within the first 3 weeks?
A. Call your professor as soon as you realize you have difficulty.

Q. What if I forget the instructions or lose this syllabus?
A. Buy another one from the Bookstore.

Q. What if I have an idea for work experience not mentioned in the syllabus?
A. Great! Call the professor and discuss your idea.




Forms List
The pages that follow contain:
1. Suggested format for co-op journal
2. Sample journal page
3. Monthly co-op evaluation forms
4. Instructions/outline for final paper
Suggested Format

PLA 1949 Co-op Work Experience I in Legal Assisting
Internship Log


______________________________
(Name)
______________________________
(Address)
______________________________
(City, State, Zip)
______________________________
(Telephone)

   Date       Amount of Time          Description




Total hours this page: ____________
Suggested Format –                                 Sample Page

PLA 1949 Co-op Work Experience I in Legal Assisting
Internship Log


______________________________
(Name)
______________________________
(Address)
______________________________
(City, State, Zip)
______________________________
(Telephone)

    Date      Amount of Time          Description
9/15/98       3 hrs.                  Opened files, made copies, filed, typed and mailed stipulation for
                                      trail, courthouse run

9/16/98       2 ½ hrs.                opened files, made copies for notice of filing, courthouse run


9/17/98       3 hrs.                  updated client intake sheet and revised retainer agreement, opened
                                      files, made copies, courthouse run

9/18/98       2 ½ hrs.                typed and mailed letters to clients, opened files, made copies,
                                      courthouse run

9/21/98       2 ½ hrs.                faxed documents, opened files, finished changes on the retainer
                                      agreement, made copies, courthouse run

9/22/98       3 hrs.                  opened files, filed documents, called district attorney’s office for
                                      information, courthouse run, went to City Hall to pay registration
                                      renewal




Total hours this page: _____16 ½ hrs_______
       LEGAL ASSISTING CO-OP MONTHLY EVALUATION FORM (2 months required)

STUDENT:______________________________ SSN:__________________________

MONTH & YEAR: _______________________

ATTORNEY OR ASSISTANT EVALUATING STUDENT:______________________

For the month contained above, the student’s performance deserved the following grades:

1. TIMELINESS / PUNCTUALITY ( did the student regularly show up for work at the scheduled time
   and was he/she punctual in performing work assignments?)

   A    B    C   D    or    F

2. ATTITUDE / COOPERATION ( did the student display a positive attitude toward their work and
   cooperate willingly with their supervisor(s) and other office employees? )

   A    B    C   D    or    F

3. QUALITY OF WORK ( did the student perform her/his work in a manner that demonstrated the
   competency and professional skills of a trained legal assistant? )

   A    B    C   D    or    F

4. Overall, how would you evaluate this student’s performance during the month covered in this
   evaluation ?

   A    B    C   D    or    F

Comments:____________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

ATTORNEY OR ASSISTANT PREPARING THIS EVALUATION:


______________________________________________________________________________Name
(typed or printed)                            Name (signed)

Date:______________________
       LEGAL ASSISTING CO-OP MONTHLY EVALUATION FORM (2 months required)

STUDENT:______________________________ SSN:__________________________

MONTH & YEAR: _______________________

ATTORNEY OR ASSISTANT EVALUATING STUDENT:______________________

For the month contained above, the student’s performance deserved the following grades:

2. TIMELINESS / PUNCTUALITY ( did the student regularly show up for work at the scheduled time
   and was he/she punctual in performing work assignments?)

   A    B    C   D    or    F

3. ATTITUDE / COOPERATION ( did the student display a positive attitude toward their work and
   cooperate willingly with their supervisor(s) and other office employees? )

   A    B    C   D    or    F

4. QUALITY OF WORK ( did the student perform her/his work in a manner that demonstrated the
   competency and professional skills of a trained legal assistant? )

   A    B    C   D    or    F

4. Overall, how would you evaluate this student’s performance during the month covered in this
   evaluation ?

   A    B    C   D    or    F

Comments:____________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

ATTORNEY OR ASSISTANT PREPARING THIS EVALUATION:


______________________________________________________________________________Name
(typed or printed)                            Name (signed)

Date:______________________
       LEGAL ASSISTING CO-OP MONTHLY EVALUATION FORM (2 months required)

STUDENT:______________________________ SSN:__________________________

MONTH & YEAR: _______________________

ATTORNEY OR ASSISTANT EVALUATING STUDENT:______________________

For the month contained above, the student’s performance deserved the following grades:

3. TIMELINESS / PUNCTUALITY ( did the student regularly show up for work at the scheduled time
   and was he/she punctual in performing work assignments?)

   A    B    C   D    or    F

4. ATTITUDE / COOPERATION ( did the student display a positive attitude toward their work and
   cooperate willingly with their supervisor(s) and other office employees? )

   A    B    C   D    or    F

5. QUALITY OF WORK ( did the student perform her/his work in a manner that demonstrated the
   competency and professional skills of a trained legal assistant? )

   A    B    C   D    or    F

4. Overall, how would you evaluate this student’s performance during the month covered in this
   evaluation ?

   A    B    C   D    or    F

Comments:____________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

ATTORNEY OR ASSISTANT PREPARING THIS EVALUATION:


______________________________________________________________________________Name
(typed or printed)                            Name (signed)

Date:______________________
                          INSTRUCTIONS/OUTLINE FOR FINAL PAPER


Design your paper around the following general outline.

You do not have to include all of the suggestions below; this outline is to get you started.


I. Describe the office you work in and the nature of the law practice at the office.

   a. Describe how your supervising attorney fits into the office structure.

   b. Describe the legal work your supervising attorney does.

   c. Identify the size of the law office. How many attorneys, how many secretaries and other
      support staff.

   d. Describe the relative division of responsibilities among the different levels of staff in the
      office.


II. Describe the work you perform, and how it fits into the overall work of the office.

   a. Do you work directly with an attorney or office manager? Do you work along with other
      support staff?

   b. Describe the actual duties you performed. What level of work is it? Is it more like a law
      clerk or more like a secretary?

   c. Identify any duties you learned or performed which a legal secretary could not do. Were
      there any?


III. Describe any benefits from the MCC legal assisting program you enjoyed in performing
     work in the law office.

   a. Identify where you are in your legal studies. Have you almost completed the legal
      assisting program? Are you at the end of your first year? How many law courses had you
      taken prior to your internship?

   b. Have any of the classes you have taken taught you practical skills which assisted your
      supervisor extend his services or made you a more valuable office assistant?

   c. Are there any courses you have taken which you think were unnecessary, or did not
      prepare you for work in a law office?

   d. Can you think of any skills the program should teach that we do not currently teach?
IV. Reflecting back on your work experience over the semester, have you learned anything in
    this internship?

   a. Did the co-op experience provide you with a greater understanding of the practical skills
      you need to be an effective legal assistant? What specifically did you learn?

   b. Did the co-op experience help you decide what area of law you would like to work in after
      you receive your degree? How did the experience help?

   c. What was good and bad about your co-op experience?

   d. Do you think MCC can change the program to better prepare legal assistants to work in the
      community? What could we do better?

				
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