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Legal Research, Writing & Civil Litigation

3 Credits

This course is a part of:
Certificate Program
Associate's Degree Program
Bachelor's Degree Program

This course may very well be the most important course a paralegal student can take, simply because it is in the area of litigation that attorneys rely most heavily on their paralegals. This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the major aspects of civil litigation, from both the plaintiff’s and defendant's perspectives. The course will focus on a variety of subjects aimed at teaching the student how to manage a case from beginning to end. The subjects covered in the course will include determining jurisdiction and venue; initiating and commencing a lawsuit; client counseling; investigation techniques and the discovery process; the drafting of summons and complaints, motions, briefs and pleadings; settlement techniques; the trial itself; pre and post-trial activities and the appeals process.

This course will also offer an intensive but simplified introduction to U.S. legal systems and methodologies, basic principles of stare decisis and precedent, the nature of legal education, and sources of law. Topics include: The judicial structure, including both federal and state; statutes, regulations, common law and constitutional law; synthesizing sources of law; the judicial process and the doctrine of stare decisis; overruling precedent, holding, rationale, and dictum.

The key component of the paralegal’s role in civil litigation is drafting documents. Therefore, this course will also focus on training our students to do competent legal research and develop their ability to draft legal documents. Students will learn to identify and use a variety of research tools, including both the online collection provided by LexisNexis® as well as traditional book-based methods of legal research. A portion of the course will focus on the various types and form books of reference books, proper case citation, cite checking and the proper method of case reporting, shepardizing, methods of compiling legislative histories and administrative legal research.

Course Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Conduct online research to find primary and secondary sources of legal authority.
  • Cite legal sources appropriately.
  • Distinguish between binding and non-binding authority.
  • "Shepardize" to determine if case law is valid.
  • Edit and revise a persuasive legal memorandum.
  • Draft legal memoranda and research memos.
  • Apply and describe the rules of venue.
  • Determine whether a class action certification is appropriate based on a given fact pattern.
  • Demonstrate how case precedent and stare decisis influence case holdings.
  • Evaluate whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction in both federal and state courts.
  • Differentiate between personal jurisdiction, in-rem jurisdiction, and quasi-in-rem jurisdiction.
  • Apply the Erie doctrine in a variety of scenarios.