A new session of each course opens each month, allowing you to enroll whenever your busy schedule permits!
How does it work? Once a session starts, two lessons will be released each week, for the six-week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.
Keep in mind that the interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes 2 weeks after each lesson is released, so you’re encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
The Final Exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the Final Exam has been released, you will have 2 weeks plus 10 days to complete the Final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.
Lesson 01 - What Is a Paralegal?
Lawyers simply don’t have time to do everything their job requires them to do. As a result, they often hire paralegals to be their right hands. Basically, paralegals help lawyers with research and to prepare for cases. In this first lesson, we’ll begin with a general overview of the American legal system. We'll then look at the details of what a paralegal’s job entails, and we'll also spend some time discussing the current job prospects for paralegals. By the end of the lesson, you should have a good grasp of where the paralegal fits into the legal system.
Lesson 02 - How Do Paralegals Integrate Into a Law Practice?
In this lesson, we'll explore the paralegal’s work environment in three different types of employment: a law firm, a corporation, and the public sector. Then we’ll turn our attention to what happens in preparation for trial. This is the type of work that paralegals do most often. Next, we’ll look at what happens during a trial. Finally, we’ll wrap things up by exploring post-trial duties to give you a comprehensive sense of what a paralegal does on a daily basis.
Lesson 03 - Legal Terminology
Legal terminology is an integral part of what a paralegal needs to know. Every profession has a certain amount of jargon, and the legal profession has plenty. That's what we'll focus on in this lesson: simple definitions of the legal terms that you'll need to understand and use in your daily work. At the end of this lesson, terms like movant and tortfeasor should roll off your tongue with ease. Plus, a working knowledge of legal terminology will give you a solid foundation for the concepts we'll be covering in future lessons.
Lesson 04 - Contract Law
Contract law is a large part of most law practices. As a paralegal, you'll often assist with preparing contracts. In this lesson, you'll learn about the necessary elements that go into a legal, enforceable contract. Since even the most carefully prepared contract can sometimes go awry, you'll also get a large dose of contract litigation. By the end of this lesson, you should be familiar with the various terms related to contract law and feel comfortable in distinguishing a valid contract form one that's unenforceable.
Lesson 05 - Tort Law
The tort system gives us many of our civil laws. These laws govern wrongs that people do to other people and their property. In this lesson, we'll discuss the types of tort law actions. We’ll talk about intentional and quasi-intentional torts, and then we’ll explore negligent torts. We’ll also look at a few other areas of tort law, including strict liability, products liability, and nuisance torts.To put it all into perspective, we’ll wrap up the lesson with a discussion of tort law practice.
Lesson 06 - Analyzing and Drafting Legal Documents
One of the most interesting tasks paralegals have is legal analysis. It's the foundation for properly preparing for a case and to represent clients in the best way possible. Drafting legal documents is yet another task that paralegals do in their daily work. So in this lesson we’ll be talking about both legal analysis and drafting legal documents. I'll share an easy-to-remember formula that's the basis for legal analysis, and then I'll show how to apply analysis to the drafting of legal documents. By the time this lesson is finished, you should feel confident enough to apply the precedent from past cases to present ones.
Lesson 07 - Investigating Legal Matters
In the movies and on TV, attorneys learn valuable facts when they cross-examine witnesses at trial. In the real world, attorneys know what witnesses are expected to say long before trial. They also know or try to know all the significant facts of a case long before trial. This information often comes from legal investigation.That’s the subject for this lesson. We’ll cover the goals of legal investigation as well as the best methods. We’ll look at evidence: how to get it, how to mark it, how to protect it, and how to organize it. By the end of this lesson, you should be prepared to conduct a thorough and effective legal investigation.
Lesson 08 - Legal Interviewing
The strongest kind of information is the spoken words of people telling what they know. But before clients and witnesses can share their knowledge, someone must interview them. Interviewing is an interpersonal skill, and that's what we'll concentrate on in this lesson. We’ll begin by discussing the initial client interview, starting with the setting for the interview and its content. Then we'll take a look at the intake memorandum, which paralegals typically draft at the conclusion of the initial client interview. We'll also talk about witness interviews and how to prepare clients and witnesses for trial and deposition questions. By the end of this lesson, your communication skills should be sharply tuned.
Lesson 09 - Conducting Legal Research
One of the most important tasks for paralegals is to find law that is relevant to the issues in the case they’re working on. Finding this case law is the heart of legal research. And that’s what we’ll concentrate on in this lesson. We’ll first discuss legal authority and its various categories, including primary, secondary, mandatory, and persuasive authority. Then we’ll talk about the research process itself. We’ll finish up this lesson by looking at the many tools legal researchers have available. By the end of this lesson, you should feel confident in navigating online resources as well as a law library.
Lesson 10 - Writing Legal Briefs
Once you’ve used your legal research skills, you must be able to convey the results in legal briefs. There are some specific techniques for effective legal writing, and that’s the topic for this lesson. We’ll begin by looking at the proper format and organization of a legal brief. We’ll explore the various sections, and then we’ll look at citations. A well-supported and organized argument is essential in a brief, so we’ll spend some time talking about that subject as well. Then we’ll dig into the nuts and bolts of writing: proper use of grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation. We’ll close out this lesson by focusing on the mechanics of good writing and how to effectively proofread your work. The goal of this lesson is to give you the tools to produce clear and convincing legal writing.
Lesson 11 - Appellate Procedure
Losing a trial can be painful, and the losing party often searches for some mistake that the trial court has made. Such mistakes can then serve as the basis of an appeal. An appeal ideally leads to a complete reversal of the trial court decision or at least a new trial in the original court. In this lesson, we’ll talk about the aftermath of a trial and how the parties begin to prepare for appeal. You’ll learn the difference between questions of law and questions of fact, and you’ll see how that difference will form the basis of your research. We’ll also talk about how to prepare an appellate brief and how to form a research plan. At the end of this lesson, you should understand how the appellate brief fits into the overall scheme of the litigation process.
Lesson 12 - Job Hunting
Nothing can replace hands-on experience for giving you a strong complement to the knowledge you learn from taking courses. To gain this hands-on experience, you obviously must find an internship or a job. In this final lesson, I’ll share with you sources for job leads and how to develop good working skills and habits. I’ll also be talking about further education that you might want to consider. My hope is that by the end of this lesson, you’ll feel ready to either seek employment or pursue further paralegal education.