The Paralegal and Legal Studies Curriculum was developed according to guidelines provided by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Paralegals. It offers students a background in the legal fundamentals, appropriate skills and practical experience necessary for professional employment. The paralegal can perform tasks delegated by a lawyer as long as the lawyer is responsible to the client and assumes full professional responsibility for the work. A paralegal cannot give legal advice, appear in court or set fees. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except permitted by law.
There is an increasingly wide range of paralegal job opportunities in both the private and public sectors. Law firms, banks, accounting firms, insurance companies, brokerage houses, the court system, schools, hospitals, welfare centers, public program law offices, neighborhood legal centers, legal aid offices and national, state and city government agencies all employ paralegals. Federal, New York State and New York City civil service systems have paralegal job classifications. The paralegal program gives the student a broad range of employment opportunities.
A paralegal education can prove to be a good background for an executive career in professions other than law and for the law profession itself. One can apply earned credits towards a law-related bachelor’s degree. The program has a large liberal arts component, which enables students to continue their education after completion of the AAS Paralegal and Legal Studies Degree.
The Paralegal and Legal Studies curriculum emphasizes business and law courses that prepare students for employment that includes research, writing and other tasks commonly assigned by law firms to paralegals. The curriculum features a 75-100 hour internship (CWE 31) component in which students work in a legal setting. This exposes students to the legal profession and makes them further aware of their ethical and professional responsibilities.
The goals and objectives of the program are:
- To acquire an Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal and Legal Studies degree or a Paralegal Certificate.
- To provide the students with a background in the legal fundamentals, appropriate skills and practical experience necessary for professional employment.
- To give students a broader range of employment opportunities, the curriculum offers a wide variety of business, law and liberal arts courses.
- To give students the opportunity to continue their education after completion of the AAS Paralegal and Legal Studies degree. This is met by the curriculum’s large liberal arts core. We presently have an articulation agreement with New York City College of Technology as well as with SUNY Canton and SUNY Empire State.
- To expose our students to the legal profession in which they will be employed. This is met by a 75-100 hour working internship in a law related facility.
- To provide students with knowledge of the ethical responsibilities and the legal restrictions placed on legal assistants.
Upon successful completion of the Paralegal and Legal Studies program requirements, students will be able to:
- Students will demonstrate competency in the preparation of the following legal documents: summons and complaint, discovery questions and legal memorandum, cover letters for possible employment
- Students will demonstrate competency in conducting legal research to create a legal memorandum.
- Students will demonstrate growth in ethical behavior in accordance with professional standards.
- Students will demonstrate preparedness to seek employment within the legal profession.*
*Note: not applicable to the Lay Advocate Option.
The Lay Advocate Option prepares students for service to people and institutions that are concerned with the criminal system, family law, the poor, the mentally and physically handicapped and the elderly.
Approved by the American Bar Association.
Important Codification updates to program requirements approved December 2020:
Credit requirements for the Paralegal and Legal Students AAS degree
- Students must complete at least 50% of their Legal Specialty credits while in residence at BCC.
- Students must complete at least nine of their Legal Specialty credits through synchronous instruction.
For more information, see the Paralegal and Legal Studies Handbook (.pdf)
Curriculum Coordinator: Professor Nikole Knight