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PLG 399 Syllabus

Paralegal Practicum Information

The Paralegal Practicum is a three (3) credit-hour course in which eligible paralegal degree-seeking students report to a host site and work under the supervision of an attorney or his/her designee (herein after referred to as the Site Supervisor) for a minimum of 240 hours over the course of a semester in exchange for course credit. The schedule for performing work at the host site shall be agreed upon between the Student and host site at the start of the semester.

To ensure that students participating in the practicum possess a certain level of skill and knowledge, students must have completed the following core paralegal and business law courses either at Charter Oak State College (COSC) or through transfer credit:

  • Business Law (BUS 120)
  • Civil Procedure (PLG 105)
  • Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility (PLG 301)
  • Legal Research and Writing (PLG 210)
  • Technology in Law (PLG 110)

All transfer credit must be evaluated by the COSC Registrar’s Office and deemed appropriate for transfer by COSC. It is also suggested that students complete the following related core courses:

  • Organizational Communication (COM 326)
  • Introduction to Management (MGT 101)

Thus, before participating in the practicum, eligible students have learned the basics of the legal system; the can conduct legal research; can draft documents, memoranda and motions; and have an understanding of the ethical principals important to the practice of law. Most practicum students are in their last semester of the program and will have also completed specialty courses in areas such as:

  • Bankruptcy Law (PLG 330)
  • Criminal Law (PLG 211)
  • Elder Law (PLG 311)
  • Environmental Law (PLG 312)
  • Family Law (PLG 320)
  • Health Care Law (HCA 411)
  • Insurance Law (PLG 412)
  • Intellectual Property (PLG 415)
  • Juvenile/Education Law (PLG 325)
  • Public Administration Law (PUB 120)
  • Real Estate Law (PLG 314)
  • Wills and Probate (PLG 215)

It is expected that a law firm or agency supervising a student shall provide the student with the opportunity to engage in meaningful paralegal work within the normal bounds of the organization’s business under the supervision of the Site Supervisor. It is further expected that the Site Supervisor will provide feedback to the student and COSC Paralegal Program Coordinator (PPC) regarding the performance of tasks assigned, by way of editing/correcting the student work and completing a brief evaluation form at the end of the semester. In cases where the student is currently employed at the practicum site, the Site Supervisor agrees to assign paralegal tasks to the student that are outside the student’s ordinary scope of duties in order to broaden the student’s experience while enrolled in the practicum.

Students are responsible for finding their own host site; however, the COSC PPC must approve of the practicum host site. Students will sign agreements regarding client confidentiality, professional conduct and liability as required by the host site.

PLG 399: PARALEGAL PRACTICUM JOURNAL ASSIGNMENTS

Practicum students are required to submit a weekly journal entry to the Paralegal Program Coordinator (PPC). Each journal entry should include information about the students’ week at the work site:

  • What types of tasks did you perform?
  • Mindful of client confidentiality, what legal issues did you address in your work?
  • What legal theories that you have studied in your coursework were applicable this week?
  • Were there any legal concepts that were new to you this week?

Eight of the journal entries should also contain a reflection on the following readings. The entries need not be done in this order but may be selected on weeks that they are applicable to your work.

Topic 1: Paralegal Ethics and Responsibility

The National Association of Legal Assistants Code of Ethics

http://www.nala.org/code.aspx

The Ethical Wall and Its Application to Paralegals by Deborah Repass

http://www.paralegals.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=388

Topic 2: Law Firm Utilization of Paralegal Services

ABA Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegals

http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/paralegals/downloads/modelguidelines.pdf

Topic 3: Client Interviews

How to Interview Clients by Ellsworth Rundlett III

http://www.legalassistanttoday.com/issue_archive/features/feature2_ja08.htm

Topic 4: Legal Writing

The Consequences of Bad Legal Writing by Christy Hall Benson

http://www.legalassistanttoday.com/issue_archive/columns/LglWrtng_ma07.htm

Important Legal Writing Tools for Paralegals by Celia Ewell

http://www.legalassistanttoday.com/issue_archive/columns/legal_research_nd03.htm

Topic 5: Paralegals Aid in Preparation for Litigation

Time to Shine by Oliver M. Gierke

http://www.legalassistanttoday.com/issue_archive/columns/litigation_jf08.htm

9 Critical Steps for Trial Preparation by David Dempsey

http://www.legalassistanttoday.com/issue_archive/features/feature1_ja03.htm

Topic 6: Paralegals as Project Managers

The Project Manager by Ann Marie Gibbs

http://www.nala.org/Upload/file/PDF-Files/FactsFindings/Facts_Art_Project_Mgr.pdf

Managing Discovery by Joseph Howie

http://www.nala.org/Upload/file/PDF-Files/FactsFindings/Facts_Art_Howie.pdf

Topic 7: Supreme Court Cases Regarding Paralegals

Missouri vs. Jenkins, 1989

http://www.nala.org/Upload/file/PDF-Files/89-MissouriJenkins-Decision.pdf

Richlin v. Chertoff, 2008

http://www.nala.org/New2/Upload/file/PDF-Files/08-Richlin-Decision.pdf

Topic 8: Paralegal Careers

Seize Your Potential by Todd Saxton

http://www.nala.org/Upload/file/PDF-Files/FactsFindings/Facts_Art_saxton.pdf

The Next Step in Your Paralegal Employment by Brad Baber

http://www.legalassistanttoday.com/issue_archive/features/feature2_ma06.htm

The journal assignment is meant to foster a dialogue between the student and the PPC. Students should submit the journal entry by Sunday at 11:59pm each week until the 240 hours of practicum work is completed and should expect feedback from the PPC by Tuesdays at 9pm the following week. The journal entries will comprise 50% of the students’ grade and each entry will be graded based on the following rubric:

AssessmentHigh/Excellent (7-10 points)Medium/Good (5-6 points)Low/Fair (3-4 points)Unsatisfactory/Poor (0-2 points)

Contribution to the practicum experience

Journal entry is insightful, thorough, and interesting.

Journal entry is thorough and interesting.

Journal entry is interesting but lacks insight and depth.

Journal entry is uninteresting and/or too brief for the assignment.

Demonstrated understanding of the reading assignment (when applicable)

Journal entry demonstrates a thorough understanding of the reading assignment and is substantiated by several examples from the textbook and/or companion website.

Journal entry demonstrates an understanding of the reading assignment and is substantiated by at least one example from the textbook and/or companion website.

Journal entry demonstrates an understanding of the reading assignment but is not substantiated by examples from the textbook and/or companion website.

Journal entry demonstrates very little understanding of the reading assignment.

Grammar, mechanics, spelling, and sentence structure

Journal entry is highly polished; no grammar or spelling errors.

Journal entry is polished; maximum of one grammar or spelling error.

Journal entry is adequate; maximum of two grammar or spelling errors.

Inadequate Journal entry; more than two spelling or grammar errors.

Charter Oak State College

PRACTICUM SITE AGREEMENT

PLG 399

In order to provide an opportunity for paralegal students at Charter Oak State College (COSC) to gain onsite professional paralegal job experience, the COSC Practicum Program Coordinator (PPC), the Site Supervisor at the worksite indicated below, and the student indicated below enter into the following mutual covenants and agreements:

The Practicum Site, under the direction of the Site Supervisor, agrees:

  1. To provide the required paralegal or legal assistant work experiences for the Student that will provide practical knowledge of the duties and tasks required of paralegals in the workplace.
  2. To provide the Student with a minimum of 240 hours of supervised paralegal experiences over the term of the practicum.
  3. To assist in the evaluation of the Student by completing a written evaluation of the Student at the end of the Practicum. This evaluation will comprise 50% of the Student’s final grade in the Practicum course.
  4. To be available from time to time for consultation with the COSC PPC regarding the Student’s progress and activities, either in person or over the telephone or via email.
  5. To provide an orientation session for the Student at the worksite as well as reinforcement of skills and occupational supervision during the course of the Practicum.
  6. In cases where the Student is currently employed at the Practicum site, the Site Supervisor agrees to assign work to the Student which is outside the Student’s ordinary scope of duties, which will be supervised by a licensed attorney, and which will provide the Student with practical paralegal experience that their current work assignment does not provide.

The COSC Paralegal Program Coordinator agrees:

  1. To consult with the Site Supervisor and to render assistance with problems associated with the Practicum to the best of his/her ability.
  2. To assist in the evaluation of the Student.
  3. To promptly address any problems that may arise during the course of the Practicum.

The Practicum may be terminated for the following reasons:

  1. The Site Supervisor requests that the Student be dismissed because of his/her dissatisfaction with the Student’s professional performance and/or personal conduct.
  2. The COSC PPC believes that the Student is receiving less than appropriate training and/or supervision in paralegal or legal assistant matters.

The Student understands that should the Practicum be terminated for the first reason listed above, he/she may or may not be offered another Practicum at COSC. Such decision will be made by the COSC PPC after consultation with the Site Supervisor and the Student. This decision will be based on the willingness and ability of the Student to adequately perform paralegal duties in a work site.

Charter Oak State College

COMPLETION OF PREREQUISITES

PLG 399

Please indicate below, the semester and year along with the institution where you completed the following core courses or their accepted equivalents:

Semester/Year Institution

  1. Business Law (BUS 120)
  2. Civil Procedure (PLG 105)
  3. Legal Ethics and Professional
    Responsibility (PLG 301)
  4. Legal Research and Writing (PLG 210)
  5. Technology in Law (PLG 110)

ASSIGNMENT TO PRACTICUM WORK SITE

PLG 399

Students are responsible for finding their own host site; however, the Charter Oak State College (COSC) Practicum Program Coordinator (PPC) must approve of the practicum host site. Please provide the following Practicum Site information:

  1. Student Name:
  2. Name of law office or agency:
  3. Address of law office or agency:
  4. Name of Site Supervisor:

    Note: If the Site Supervisor is not an attorney, licensed to practice law in your state, provide the name of the attorney in charge below:

  5. Telephone number(s):
  6. Email address(es):
  7. Name of COSC PPC:

Charter Oak State College

PLG 399: Paralegal Practicum

Student Agreement

By participating in the PLG 399 Paralegal Practicum, I agree to the following conditions:

  • I will obey and conform my behavior to the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Paralegal Ethics in the state where I perform my practicum.
  • I will perform the instructions of my Practicum Site Supervisor and perform assigned tasks to the best of my ability and in accordance with any and all policies and procedures at the site with regard to conflict of interest, confidentiality, general conduct, and other office matters.
  • I will observe the requirements of confidentiality in preserving any secrets or confidences of clients to which I may be exposed and hereby attest that I have read and understand the requirements of confidentiality as stated in the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Paralegal Ethics in the state where I perform my practicum.
  • I will observe the rules regarding conflict of interest and will promptly notify my Practicum Site Supervisor of any potential conflicts.
  • I understand that the site is not responsible in any way for any injury or other harm suffered by me while at the site.

Student Signature:

Signature Date:

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.