METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
COURSE OUTLINE FORM
COURSE TITLE Paralegal Profession
COURSE PREFIX AND NO. LAWS 1100 LEC 4.5 LAB 0 CREDIT HOURS 4.5
A survey of the legal environment including law office procedures, duties and limitations of Paralegals,
professional responsibilities and expectations, and an overview of the American Legal System, client
relationships, legal ethics, and confidentiality are studied. There is a focus on communication skills and drafting
The purpose of this course is to provide the entering student with an overview of the legal profession and the
role of the Paralegal within it. Following an introduction to the law, the legal system, legal research, law office
procedures, client relationships, and ethics, the student will be able to make an informed choice concerning a
career as a Paralegal.
REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS and/or MATERIALS:
Title: NALA Manual for Paralegals & Legal Assistants
Attached course outline written by: Virginia Koerselman Date: 1996
Reviewed/Revised by: Josephine Wandel Date: 03/09
Effective quarter of course outline: 09/FA
Dean Daryl Hansen Date:
Course Objectives, Topical Unit Outlines, and Unit Objectives must be attached to this form.
COURSE OBJECTIVES/TOPICAL UNIT OUTLINE/UNIT OBJECTIVES
TITLE: Paralegal Profession PREFIX/NO. LAWS 1100
Upon Completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. Identify, analyze, and evaluate the principles and problems facing paralegals in relation to law office
procedures, duties, and limitations of paralegals, professional responsibilities and expectations,
document drafting, client relationships, legal ethics, and confidentiality.
2. Discuss and define general terms and theories associated with the practice of law as it relates to
3. Draft simple pleadings and memorandums from hypothetical factual situations.
4. Research Nebraska statutes and cite the same.
TOPICAL UNIT OUTLINE/UNIT OBJECTIVES:
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
Unit I. Paralegal Profession
A. Define “paralegal” terms as they have evolved since the 1960’s.
B. Describe the function of paralegals from the early stages of development through
C. Analyze the correlation between utilization of paralegals and increased
D. Compare utilization of paralegals with the development and utilization of
structured systems within the law office.
E. Describe goals yet to be achieved and problems yet to be resolved in this new
profession (pioneering in the 1980’s and 1990’s).
Unit II. Professional Responsibilities and Expectations
A. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of both broad and narrow training for
B. Identify the challenges facing those engaged in this nontraditional field within law
C. Clarify the student’s personal expectations and anticipated responsibilities in
relation to those of the profession generally.
D. Define realistic approaches for paralegals in response to offices politics.
E. Segregate professional responsibilities of lawyers from those of paralegals.
F. Critique methods of personal marketing, both in obtaining employment and in
upgrading one’s responsibilities and level of employment.
G. Examine and weigh options for career advancement, directly and indirectly related
H. Formulate constructive job performance evaluations for use by lawyers who utilize
I. Identify professional associations for paralegals and assess their value to legal
assistants in the networking process.
Unit III. Duties/Limitations of Paralegals (Legal Ethics)
A. Define unauthorized practice of law in terms of the licensing requirements to
practice law, and the practice of law by non-lawyers (Realtors, bankers,
B. Cite examples of authorized and unauthorized functions of paralegals in providing
C. Review and analyze specific cases where the practice of law by non-lawyers has
been sanctioned by courts.
D. Synthesize the evolution and demise of paralegal rules of practice implemented in
E. Distinguish between ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility and ABA
Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
F. List the primary rules of professional conduct which govern lawyers.
G. Define and compare canons, disciplinary rules (DR) and ethical considerations
Unit IV. Regulation of Paralegals
A. Compare the systems by which paralegals and lawyers are regulated.
B. Identify potential ethical/regulatory problems with:
1. names on stationary
2. names on office door
3. sharing legal fees
4. communication with opposing counsel
5. communication with clients
6. court appearances
7. appearances before administrative agencies
8. attendance at real estate closings.
C. Identify and critique the regulatory sanctions for unauthorized practice of law by
paralegals and other non-lawyers.
D. Examine personal liability of paralegals relative to intentional acts, negligence,
respondent superior, and criminal sanctions.
E. Distinguish between NALA an NFPA positions relating to the regulation and
licensing of paralegals.
Unit V. Introduction to the Legal system
A. Define the structure of the American legal system in the litigation process.
B. Examine the judicial (litigation) function in the context of interrelated legal
functions (legislative and executive).
Unit VI. The Litigation Assistant
A. Define words and phrases commonly used in the litigation process.
B. Examine litigation options and procedures for an automobile accident case and/or
from a contract case determination of proper parties through the trial and appellate
1. Create litigation flowchart.
2. Identify those areas where paralegals are most frequently utilized.
3. Prepare a complaint and answer using the principles discussed.
Unit VII Introduction of Legal Research
A. Identify the major kinds of law (constitutional , statutory, common,
B. Examine and describe the research tools used to locate specific types of law.
C. Apply uniform principles of citation for statutes and cases to identify research
sources once they have been located.
D. Locate and cite state statutes that apply to specific legal questions.
Unit VIII. Interpretation of Law
A. Describe methods of interpreting statutes and regulations.
B. Describe methods of interpreting common law.
C. Apply law of reported case to the facts of an assigned case to be researched.
D. Convert facts of a case into one or more legal issues.
Unit IX Client Relationships
A. List the objectives of client interviewing.
B. Apply the following techniques in conducting a mock client interview:
1. Establish the interview environment.
2. Separate the role of the lawyer and paralegal.
3. Employ leading and open-ended questions with an awareness of their uses
4. Document the interview.
Unit X Law Office Investigations
A. Study proper grammar usage and written business correspondence
B. Distinguish and identify various communication methods including verbal, non-
verbal, and written.
C. Study communication styles and procedures used in law offices, i.e. etiquette’s use
of e-mails, cell phones and confidentiality issues.
Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, 4th ed.
Upon completion of this course, the student will have acquired basic cognitive knowledge of the role of
Paralegal Profession, its development and its anticipated challenges. In addition, the student will have
demonstrated the ability to accurately define and use common legal terms.
OUTCOME MEASURES for LAWS 1100, Paralegal Profession
COURSE OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT MEASURES
1. Identify issues facing paralegals on the job, Written test.
including professional ethics and limitations; Small written project assignments.
review skills and expectations. Research and cite Nebraska statutes.
2. Define legal terms encountered by the paralegal. Written test.
3. Draft simple pleadings from hypothetical facts. Draft tort or contract petition.
Draft answer containing affirmative defenses.