Academic Course Catalogs

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Paralegal Studies Certificate Studies

Susan M. Sullivan, MA, DIRECTOR

The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is offered for students who are interested in law-related careers. The program can provide useful insights for students interested in law school as well as give a basis for future decisions about their legal career.

Paralegals are trained members of a legal team who work under the supervision of attorneys. They are involved in most phases of legal services, including interviewing of clients, legal research, and the drafting of documents. Graduates of the program are employed by law firms, banks, corporations, and government agencies.

Students who successfully complete the program receive a certificate upon their graduation from USD. Employment assistance is available to graduates. Pre-employment workshops aid the student in preparing for the job search. This program is approved by the American Bar Association.

Students must formally apply for admission to the program and be accepted before they register for any Paralegal Studies courses. To be considered for the program, students must have achieved second-semester junior standing at USD and a grade point average of at least 3.0. All courses must be taken for a letter grade.

Courses are taught by practicing attorneys who have worked with paralegals.

The undergraduate certificate program in Paralegal Studies includes 18 units of coursework. All students in the program must complete PLST 400, 405, and 498. In addition, each student selects one specialty course from PLST 420 or 450. Students must also take a non-credit computer class. All coursework is counted toward the 124 credits of the USD degree as electives. Contact the program office at (619) 260-4579 or go to for more information.

Paralegal Courses (PLST)

PLST 400 Introduction to Law (2)
This course will familiarize students with the nature, meaning, and source of law; the organization of the legal system and the legal profession; law office procedures; professional ethics; and areas not covered in the specialty.

PLST 405 Legal Research (2)
Students will develop the skills necessary to do legal research by studying the structure of state and federal courts, as well as learning how to use primary and secondary sources of law; judicial reports; case findings; and annotated law reports.

PLST 420 Business Litigation (9)
This course will provide students with an understanding of the laws, procedures, and skills that are part of the legal business practice. Students will become familiar with contracts, understand the different types of business entities, and the basics of the litigation process. An intellectual property component provides an overview of trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets.

PLST 450 General Litigation (9)
This specialty will include theory and practical skills in the areas of civil and criminal litigation, family law, and real estate. Civil and criminal litigation will include both federal and state court rules, and will emphasize procedures for processing cases through the court system. State court practice will be based on California law, but with sufficient understanding to be adapted to other states.

PLST 498 Internship (2)

Students are placed in law offices, legal clinics, government agencies, and corporations to gain legal experience by working in the business environment.


For changes to this page, please contact Annie O'Brien. For all other questions, please contact the above department/office.