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The USC Paralegal Certificate Program Curriculum
USC’s Paralegal Certificate Program is a skill-based educational experience. Practical skills and experience will prepare you to become an excellent paralegal and get you hired! Whether you enroll in the traditional classroom-based format or the convenient online format, our program is divided into six educational components. Each module focuses on a critical aspect of your legal education:
- Introduction to Law Provides the foundation for understanding the legal system, court structure, and attorney/paralegal ethics
- Tort Law & Personal Injury Focuses on the legal system surrounding civil wrongs that do not arise from contractual relationships
- Legal Research & Writing Prepares graduates to use law libraries and online research tools to locate primary authority, use secondary sources, update research sources, and utilize specific legal materials
- Civil Litigation Prepares graduates to work within the South Carolina legal environment (Note that South Carolina's legal system is similar to that of many others states, so much of this knowledge is applicable even if you relocate to another part of the country)
- Contract Law Focuses on the legal system surrounding the creation and enforcement of legal contracts
- Family Law Provides a thorough overview of a family law practice, including marriage, divorce, and property division.
Below is a list of the topics and skills taught throughout the six modules included in the program:
By presenting an actual legal matter and following it throughout the legal process, students are introduced to the most relevant legal terms. The case presented is tracked through both the civil and criminal court procedures.
It is critical for a paralegal to understand the process and structure of proper legal analysis. Students will develop the skills to analyze both case law and statutory authority.
Legal Memorandum Form
After learning the analytical process, students will analyze provided cases and statutes to prepare internal and external memoranda.
State Specific Instruction
Local and state trial and appellate courts specific to South Carolina jurisdiction will be discussed. In addition, students will be provided with information related to researching the law within South Carolina.
Federal Court Structure
Students will be instructed in the basic differences between state and federal jurisdiction, as well as the federal jurisdictions for the various federal courts in South Carolina.
Stages of Litigation
To fully understand the litigation process, and the role a paralegal plays, it is helpful to understand the three stages of the litigation process, and the functions a paralegal may perform during each stage.
Each branch of government uses various forms of law. It is therefore important for a good paralegal to understand the structure of government and the laws that apply to each branch.
Since a violation of an ethical rule may affect the supervising attorney as well as the paralegal, it is critical that students be familiar with the Rules of Ethics, and be taught to maintain a high ethical standard.