A paralegal* or legal assistant performs many aspects of legal work under the supervision of an attorney. Although prohibited from giving legal advice or setting fees, they are an integral part of the legal profession. Paralegals help lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. Job responsibilities may include: investigating facts and relevant information to a case; identifying and researching appropriate laws, decisions, legal articles and other material relevant to a case; writing reports; interviewing individuals connected with a case; organizing and tracking a case; and assisting attorneys during trials. One of the fastest growing professions in America, paralegals can be found in a variety of settings including law firms, corporate legal department, and various government offices.
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.
The goal of the Legal Studies Department is to prepare graduates to assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services in the public or private sector, to proceed to graduate school, or to pursue other career opportunities with a solid foundation in law.
Students are educated to:
- Understand the legal profession and its role in our society.
- Think critically and write competently and persuasively about legal issues.
- Use technology to perform legal research and associated tasks.
- Act ethically in their professional and personal lives.
- Act on opportunities for professional growth and continuing education.
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"