Description of Courses
All PLST courses carry two credit hours unless noted otherwise.
PLST 331 Introduction to Paralegal Studies. This course provides an introduction to the function and sources of American law (including the U.S. Constitution), the American legal system, and legal practice, focusing on the role of the paralegal. Recent developments, especially in regard to regulatory proposals affecting paralegals, are emphasized. The course also examines paralegal career issues and provides an overview of the civil litigation process.
PLST 332 Legal Research & Writing I. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of legal research and focuses on locating, analyzing and updating case law. Students practice using various reference books in the law library as well as the online services (LEXIS and WESTLAW).
PLST 333 Legal Research & Writing II. This course continues to explore the variety of legal reference sources. It focuses on locating, analyzing and updating statutory and administrative law. Students practice using various reference books in the law library as well as the online services (LEXIS and WESTLAW). This course also covers basic practices in legal correspondence.
PLST 334 Legal Research & Writing III. This course reviews legal research techniques and focuses on the development of basic research strategy. Students practice analyzing legal authority in case law and statutes and learn how to develop a legal argument. One or more research memoranda are assigned; outlines and rewrites are required. Prerequisites: PLSt 332 Legal Research & Writing I and PLST 333 Legal Research & Writing II.
PLST 335 Legal Ethics. This course focuses on the ethical considerations in the practice of law that paralegals are likely to encounter, especially the unauthorized practice of law, client confidentiality and conflicts of interest. Attorney and paralegal ethical codes are examined. Prerequisite: PLST 331 Introduction to Paralegal Studies.
PLST 336 Corporate Topics for Litigation Paralegals. This course introduces the principles of agency law and the six basic forms of business organizations: sole proprietorships, partnerships (general, registered limited liability and limited), limited liability companies and corporations. This course also covers the fundamentals of contract law, specifically contractual elements (contractual capacity, offer and acceptance, consideration, legality, and contractual intent) and standard contractual provisions.
PLST 339 Secured Transactions & Bankruptcy. This course covers Uniform Commercial Code Article 9 (Secured Transactions) and federal bankruptcy law, primarily as it applies to businesses. Prerequisite: PLST 336 Corporate Topics for Litigation Paralegals or PLST 362 Business Organizations.
PLST 340 Civil Litigation I. This course introduces the civil litigation process in state (Illinois) and federal courts, and proceedings in administrative agencies generally. It focuses on the initial phases of that process. Students will learn to conduct client interviews and pre-litigation investigations, and to draft the pleadings initiating lawsuits and proceedings through pre-trial motion practice.
PLST 341 Civil Litigation II. This course continues the study of the litigation process with the discovery, trial, and post-trial stages. Discovery topics include interrogatories, depositions, document production (including e-discovery) and inspection requests, physical and mental examinations, and requests for admission. Other topics include evidentiary issues, settlement negotiations, organization of case files, document control systems, trial preparation, trial procedure, and post-trial proceedings. Overviews of administrative hearings and alternative dispute resolution are also presented. Prerequisite: PLST 340 Civil Litigation I.
PLST 342 Civil Litigation III. This course develops practical skills through hands-on instruction in software programs (e.g., Concordance) commonly used for litigation support, including electronic filing, e-discovery, case management, document control, and trial presentation. Students will be able to assist attorneys in preparing for and conducting trials. Prerequisites: PLST 340 Civil Litigation I and PLST 341 Civil Litigation II.
PLST 343 Real Estate Transactions I. This course introduces the concepts of real estate ownership and real estate sales transactions. Special emphasis is given to the preparation of documents required for real estate transactions: purchase/sale agreements, deeds and other closing documents, title insurance commitments and policies, and surveys. Pre- or co-requisite: PLST 336 Corporate Topics for Litigation Paralegals or PLST 362 Business Organizations.
PLST 344 Real Estate Transactions II. This course continues the study of real estate transactions, examining issues that arise in all real estate transactions and especially the documentation and closing of these transactions. Commercial real estate leasing is also covered. Prerequisites: PLST 336 Corporate Topics for Litigation Paralegals or PLST 362 Business Organizations, and PLST 343 Real Estate Transactions I.
PLST 345 Law Office Computer Applications. This course develops practical skills through hands-on instruction in software programs commonly used in law offices: word processing (templates, redlining, tables), spreadsheets (financial data, charts and graphs), pdf management (creating and combining .pdfs, creating a portfolio, redacting, adding security) and presentation graphics.
PLST 346 Advanced Litigation Computer Applications. This course provides additional instruction in online resources and software programs (e.g., Concordance) used for litigation support. Prerequisites: PLST 342 Civil Litigation III and PLST 345 Law Office Computer Applications
PLST 348 Advanced Online Research Skills. This course focuses on advanced online research strategies for paralegals and specifically develops skills in the efficient use of electronic resources and the evaluation of sources. Prerequisite: PLST 332 Legal Research & Writing I or PLST 333 Legal Research & Writing II
PLST 349 Torts. This course introduces civil tort liability, including the intentional torts, negligence, strict liability, and product liability. The course focuses on the role of the paralegal in personal injury litigation. Students learn client interviewing techniques and practice these skills. Basic factual investigation is also covered.
PLST 350 Medical Malpractice. This course focuses specifically on negligence lawsuits brought against health care organizations and health care professionals, from both the plaintiff's and defendant's viewpoints. The emphasis is on Illinois law and rules of procedure and on practical skills for locating and organizing medical information.
PLST 351 Intellectual Property: Patents & Trade Secrets. This course introduces the terminology, basic principles and documentation requirements of patent protection. Students examine the subject matter of patents, the concept of patentability, the patent application process and patent infringement litigation. Trade secret misappropriation is also considered.
PLST 352 Intellectual Property: Trademarks & Copyrights. This course introduces the terminology, basic principles and documentation requirements of trademark and copyright protection. Registration procedures and infringement disputes also are covered.
PLST 353 Securities Regulation. This course deals with the federal and state regulation of securities transactions. Students learn how the stock market works and the roles of brokers, specialists and underwriters. The course focuses on the requirements for public offerings of stock, notably the registration statement and prospectus, as well as the anti-fraud provisions. Prerequisite: PLST 336 Corporate Topics for Litigation Paralegals or PLST 362 Business Organizations.
PLST 355 Estates, Trusts & Wills. This course introduces basic principles of estate and trust administration. The emphasis is on the practical aspects of administration of estates and trusts for the paralegal. Probate proceedings in Illinois will be covered, including the preparation of probate court pleadings, inventories, collection and valuation of assets, distribution of assets to beneficiaries, and accountings. An overview of tax considerations will be provided. If time allows, guardianships for disabled adults will be discussed.
PLST 357 Family Law. This course deals with the laws governing family relationships, specifically the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and related statutes. It focuses on such practical aspects as investigation, preparation of pleadings and other documents, court procedures, settlement agreements, and post-decree modifications. A brief overview of adoption and paternity proceedings is also presented.
PLST 358 Criminal Law & Litigation. This course examines the purpose and scope of substantive criminal law, considering such topics as the elements of various crimes against persons and property, criminal liability and punishment, and defenses to crimes. Procedural topics are also emphasized, including the preparation of court forms and pleadings commonly used in the criminal trial process. Illinois law is used to illustrate these topics.
PLST 359 Environmental Law. This course surveys several major federal environmental statutes regulating water quality, waste management and remediation of hazardous substances (Superfund). The focus is on issues leading to enforcement proceedings. Research strategies for this technical area also are addressed.
PLST 360 Employment Law. This course provides an overview of the legal relationship between employers and employees, including the employment-at-will doctrine, employment contracts, federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and worker's compensation proceedings. Administrative procedures as well as court actions are studied.
PLST 361 Immigration Law. This course provides an overview of U.S. immigration law with an emphasis on the paralegal’s role. It examines the legal framework of immigration law, the history of immigration law in the United States, and current policy considerations. Topics include preparation of visa applications, the admission and removal of immigrants and non-immigrants, citizenship and naturalization, and humanitarian relief. The course focuses on document organization and preparation, working with clients, litigation assistance, legal research, and handling ethical dilemmas.
PLST 362 Business Organizations. This course focuses on the formation and operation of sole proprietorships, partnerships (general, limited, and limited liability), limited liability companies, and corporations. Preparation of standard forms and agreements will be emphasized. Due diligence procedures for mergers and acquisitions and other transactions will be covered.
PLST 363 Contract Administration & Analysis. This course focuses on both common-law and Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Article 2 contracts. The elements of a valid contract will be studied, as well as standard contractual provisions and basic principles of contract interpretation. Students will work with several sample contracts (e.g., a confidentiality/nondisclosure agreement, a licensing agreement, and a general trade agreement).
PLST 366 Litigation & Investigation for Corporate Paralegals. This course introduces the civil litigation process in state (Illinois) and federal courts, from the initial phases of pre-litigation investigations and pleadings through the discovery, trial, and post-trial phases. Technological innovations affecting civil litigation, such as electronic court filing and e-discovery procedures, will be given special emphasis.
PLST 368 Corporate Compliance Topics. This course provides an overview of various regulatory provisions applicable to the financial services industry, including the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Business Continuity Plans (BCP) rules, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and insider trading prohibitions. Compliance with the requirements of these laws will be the focus of the course. Students will learn practices and procedures to monitor and document compliance with these laws. Pre-requisite: PLST 362 Business Organizations or PLST 336 Corporate Topics for Litigation Paralegals
PLST 369 Advanced Topics in American Law (3 credit hours). This course will build on students’ knowledge of the American legal system, examining the role of law in 21st century American society. The course will focus on the interpretation of selected portions of the U.S. Constitution and their effect on American life. This course is restricted to students pursuing the B.A. in Paralegal Studies.
PLST 370 Advanced Legal Analysis & Writing I (3 credit hours). This course will provide students with extensive practice in reading and summarizing case law, with particular attention to the rationale for court decisions and the use of precedent, as well as statutory and administrative law. This course will focus on analysis rather than retrieval of legal reference sources. This course is restricted to students pursuing the B.A. in Paralegal Studies.
PLST 371 Advanced Legal Analysis & Writing II (3 credit hours). This course will focus on the interaction of case law, statutory law, and administrative law in resolving legal issues. Students will learn to develop legal arguments and write a legal memorandum. 2 credits. Prerequisite: PLST 370 Advanced Legal Analysis & Writing I. This course is restricted to students pursuing the B.A. in Paralegal Studies.
PLST 398 Internship. This course provides practical experience (120 hours on site) for advanced students in applying paralegal skills within selected law firms, corporate law departments and governmental agencies. Students keep a journal, participate in online discussions with other student interns, and write a report evaluating their experience. Prerequisite: Consent of Director and completion of 12-14 semester hours of study. Internships are generally completed in a student's last or second-last term of study. All institute internships are unpaid and only one internship may be completed for credit toward a certificate.