Legal Studies

Bay Path professor John Woodruff talks with students during a legal studies class

As a legal studies major at Bay Path you have three options to choose from: 

  • Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies
  • Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies

All three programs are approved by the American Bar Association, and upon completion of one of these programs you will receive a Certificate of Advanced Paralegal Studies.* 

The legal studies program is designed to give you a greater understanding of the legal process, institutions, and ideas that are the foundation of our society. The challenging and rigorous curriculum combines theory and application in order to prepare you for a wide range of career options. One of the core strengths of the program is that our legal faculty are judges and experienced practitioners of the law bringing a practical and relevant perspective into classroom discussion.

What makes Bay Path a leader in the field of legal studies?

All the legal programs offered by the department are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and are designed to prepare graduates for careers in law or law related fields. Our faculty is comprised of experienced legal practitioners who work to ensure the quality of the legal program because they know their students will rely upon the material and skills learned in class when they enter the work-force or graduate study. As members of the legal community, our instructors all appreciate the importance of a high-quality, practical legal education to the many law firms, corporations, government agencies, and other entities that utilize the skills of paralegals. The quality of the curriculum and instruction in the department reflect the legal faculty’s commitment to their students’ success and to ensuring they are prepared for employment or graduate study.

The program in legal studies combines a broad liberal arts knowledge base with a solid foundation of legal theory and practical application that incorporates critical thinking, communications, ethics, and interpersonal skills. The goals of the program are to:

  • Educate you in the theory and philosophy of law and the principles of ethics that are part of the legal field
  • Build your research and investigative skills, including on-line research knowledge
  • Instill a code of behavior and appreciation of the standards of the profession
  • Learn practical applications of legal theory and prepare for a career in law or law-related fields
  • Develop strong written and oral communication and advocacy skills

Learning by Discussion With the Harkness Table

You won’t find desks lined in neat rows to face the front of Room 209 in the newly renovated Carr Hall. What you will find is the Harkness Table: a specially-designed large, oval table surrounded by 16 chairs and named after philanthropist Edward Harkness. For John Woodruff, assistant professor of law, the Harkness table melds with his philosophy of discussion-based teaching. “The table has a physical presence that encourages students to become their own and each others’ teachers,” states Professor Woodruff. In Room 209 students find their voice by developing viewpoints and legal arguments—important first steps in understanding and preparing for the legal profession.

Policy on Transfer of General Education and Legal Specialty Course Credits

Students seeking legal studies degrees or a certificate must complete at least 18 credits of general education course work in at least three disciplines, such as social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, languages, and English. Under normal circumstances, a student must complete at least 18 credit hours of legal specialty courses at Bay Path in order to receive a degree from the University. Generally Bay Path University will accept course credits in transfer as legal specialty courses, only courses taken at another A.B.A. approved program. Requests to accept transfer credits as legal specialty courses are reviewed on an individual basis by the Program Chair and Registrar. If necessary, the Registrar and the Chair will review the course description and syllabus from the originating University. A student wishing to transfer credits into one of the University's legal programs as a legal specialty course bears the burden of proving the course is a legal specialty course. In the Certificate of Advanced Paralegal Studies program, the student must complete at least 15 credit hours of legal specialty courses at Bay Path. Any additional credits for legal specialty courses applied toward the Certificate must be taken at an A.B.A. approved program and are accepted after review by the Legal Studies Department Chair. Students seeking to transfer credits taken online from an ABA approved program must notify the Registrar and Legal Studies Department Chair that the course was taken online. The decision to accept credits earned online rests with the Legal Studies Department Chair in consultation with the Registrar. Legal specialty credit will not be granted for online courses that were earned in a program that is not ABA approved. Final determination of the acceptance of transfer credit for legal specialty courses taken at other institutions, including ABA approved programs, is made by the Program Chair and is not appealable. Credits for University-level courses taken at other accredited institutions that are not accepted as legal specialty credits may be accepted as general education credits. Students seeking legal studies degrees or a certificate who wish to receive credit through prior learning assessment should contact the Legal Department Chair before initiating the PLA process to ensure that such credits will meet departmental requirements. Students in Bay Path’s legal programs may receive up to 15 credits for prior learning.

*A Legal Studies graduate may work as a paralegal only under the supervision of an attorney and is not authorized to engage in the practice of law. The ABA defines a paralegal or legal assistant as "a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible"

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