Legal Studies

The goals of the Legal Studies program are:

  • Paralegal majors will demonstrate an understanding of the substantive and procedural areas of law.
  • Paralegal majors will demonstrate an understanding of the paralegal profession and its ethical dimensions.
  • Paralegal majors will demonstrate effective legal research and writing skills.
  • Paralegal majors will become proficient in the use of technology used in the legal workplace.
  • The CSM Paralegal Program will be recognized as a center of excellence for paralegal education.

The student is introduced to the various topics in law and to the culture of the legal profession. In fact, the student receives instruction in many of the same areas that are required in most law schools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, law offices of all sizes and in all practice categories are employing more paralegals than ever before.

The paralegal generally works as part of a legal team in a law office, in government, or in a corporate, nonprofit or business setting. The paralegal functions as a case coordinator, researcher, one who interviews clients and witnesses, accumulates evidence, and prepares legal documents. The paralegal is involved in virtually all aspects of the legal process, but they work under the supervision of an attorney. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

Transfer students are expected to take the majority of their credit hours of their major courses at College of Saint Mary. Transfer credits will be evaluated carefully to assure comparability in nature, content and level of credit. Transfer credits in the student’s major will be limited to fourteen hours for bachelor students, nine hours for associate students and six hours for Certificate students. The number of law school transfer credits accepted for the 3+3 program will be evaluated based on the first-year curriculum of the particular school. The University only accepts transfer credits in law courses from American Bar Association approved schools.

CLEP and challenge examinations will not be given for paralegal courses.

College of Saint Mary offers three ABA approved degree program options as routes to a career in the paralegal field: a Bachelor’s degree, an Associate’s degree, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate for individuals who hold a Bachelor’s degree in another field and want to earn a Certificate in Paralegal Studies.

Legal studies majors may not complete more than 6 hours of required course work in their major, supporting courses or general education requirements by independent study. At least 9 credits of legal specialty courses required for the major or Certificate must be completed via synchronous instruction.

Students graduating with a degree or certificate in paralegal studies must have at least in C in all LAW courses.
     Note: Some courses will have a service-learning component.

College of Saint Mary also offers qualified students the opportunity to participate in an ABA approved 3+3 degree program option which enables them to earn both a Bachelor and Juris Doctor degree in six years instead of the typical seven years. Students who wish to participate in this program and apply for early admission to law school must inform the Program Director no later than the end of their first semester at College of Saint Mary. Transfer students are eligible to apply for the 3+3 program if they have completed no more than 12 credits prior to enrolling at College of Saint Mary.

Students who wish to apply for early admission to law school (after completion of their junior year) must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and meet the admission qualifications of the law school they want to attend. The College of Saint Mary has an agreement with Creighton University School of Law for early admission of CSM Legal Studies majors.

Early admission options are also available at other ABA approved law schools. Contact the Program Director for more information.

Degrees and Certificates


LAW 101: Introduction to Paralegal Studies

This survey course discusses the legal environment, law office procedures, legal ethics including confidentiality, avoiding unauthorized practice of law, professional responsibilities of the paralegal, interpreting statutes, employment opportunities, salary surveys, regulations and other sources of law, paralegal-client relations, and includes a general overview of the paralegal profession.

LAW 110: The Legal Environment

This survey course considers the different substantive areas of the law: the history of the American legal system; a general overview of the type of law applicable to the legal assistant (corporate law, litigation, estate administration, real estate, bankruptcy, torts, contracts, family law, and the like); an introduction to basic legal principles, including the judicial system; a discussion of the court system and the role of the courts-trial and appellate; Federal and state limitations in seeking judicial relief; judicial decision-making; judicial remedies; criminal procedures and legislation; administrative and government law; the sources of the law; and an overview of the elements of a trial.

LAW 200: Legal Research and Writing I

This course emphasizes the basics of legal research methods and good written communication, with an emphasis on precise writing. The course uses a case-study approach for developing organizational, legal style and analytical skills. It is an introduction to the use of research materials in the law library, including WESTLAW, Lexis, Internet basics. The course also includes familiarization with the preparation of legal memoranda and briefs encountered in the general practice of law, with specific research problems to be completed and researched.

LAW 210: Legal Research and Writing II

This course is continuation of LAW 200. Students will continue to develop their practical writing skills through legal research and document preparation exercises, including the drafting of an appellate brief.

LAW 220: Law Office Administration and Technology

This course includes a study of administrative systems, file management, docket control, retrieval, time keeping, billing, accounting, word processing, types of legal fees and their handling, and the role of the attorney, paralegal, legal administrator, and legal secretary in a law office. This course will also include practices in business, corporations, insurance companies and government offices that are relevant to paralegal employment. The use of the technology and software in the law office will be part of this course.

LAW 230: Litigation I

This course is an introduction to the civil litigation process, with emphasis on the practice associated with a civil action. Topics covered include: civil procedure, preparation and use of pleadings, discovery, evidence, client interviewing, and investigative techniques. It is recommended that this class be taken as soon as possible after completion of LAW 200.

LAW 231: Litigation II

This course is a continuation of LAW 230 with an emphasis on the functions of a paralegal in trial preparation and pretrial and trial procedures including the gathering and organizing of materials, investigating, interviewing, appellate procedures, preparation of the trial notebook, and assisting during and after a trial.

LAW 300: Torts

This course is an introduction and overview of intentional torts, negligence, strict liability, product liability, professional negligence, worker's compensation, medical malpractice, and their defenses. Types of available damages and their calculations are also discussed.

LAW 310: Advanced Business Law

This course emphasizes the practice related to formation and operation of sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability corporations, limited liability partnerships, and corporations. It includes partnership agreements and corporate documents, the formation of corporations, corporate financial structures, dividends and liquidations, changes in corporate structure, and the dissolution of corporations. This course also includes incorporation procedures in Nebraska and the preparation and drafting of documents.

LAW 320: Estates, Trusts, Tax Law, Probates

This course includes a study of intestate succession, wills, and trusts with an emphasis on the administration of an estate. It includes the preparation and drafting of wills, trust instruments, and documents related to the probate process.

LAW 330: Real Estate Law

This course deals with laws and regulations affecting real estate ownership and use. Topics covered include ownership interests, conveyancing, mortgages, title assurance, landlord-tenant relationships, public and private land-use controls, foreclosures, and the preparation of real estate documents, such as leases, contracts and deeds.

LAW 340: Contracts

This course is an introduction to principles of contract law with an emphasis on contract interpretations and clear and effective contract drafting and editing. Topics covered include: contract formation, defenses to formation, excuses for performance, various types of contracts, applicable provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code, and remedies for breach of contracts.

LAW 350: Family Law

This course is an introduction to family law, including the role of the lawyer as counselor. Emphasis is placed on the practical aspects related to divorce, separation, the scope of family law, custody, support, adoption, guardianship, tax consequences, legal rights of women, juvenile law, and interfamily torts.

LAW 410: Bankruptcy Law

This course introduces the basics of bankruptcy, secured creditors, liquidation and transactions associated with bankruptcy acts, voluntary and involuntary petitions, liens, preferences, the powers of trustee, the rights of creditors and the discharge of bankruptcy.

LAW 450: Special Topics in the Law

This course will introduce and focus on one specific area of the law not covered in one of the required major courses. Specific course subjects are offered on a rotating basis. Example topics include Poverty Law, Criminal Law, Environmental Law, Labor Law, Administrative Law, Arbitration and Mediation Law, Immigration Law, Education Law, Juvenile Law, Worker's Compensation, and Insurance Law.

LAW 470: Paralegal Internship

LAW 470 is a 3-credit course which provides actual work experience in a legal setting, giving students an opportunity to incorporate classroom learning with practical experience under the supervision of an attorney. The internship entails a minimum of 160 hours completed with the internship host within the framework of the semester in which the internship occurs.


Requirements for acceptance to LAW 470*


  1. Permission of the Program Director.
  2. Enrollment in the certificate, bachelor, or associate degree in paralegal studies program.
  3. Enrollment in the last semester of course work.
  4. Students must demonstrate suitability for the paralegal profession based on the following factors: academic performance, character and professionalism, dependability, cooperation and command of oral and written language skills.
  5. Completion of at least 75 percent (65 percent for certificate seekers) of law credit hours.
  6. Recommended registration in no more than 12 hours in addition to Law 470.
  7. GPA of 2.5 in law course work and GPA of 2.5 overall
  8. A grade of C or better in all law courses.
  9. Completion of an interview with the Program Director.
  10. Completion and submission of application.


* The Program Director reserves the right to waive requirements. Law 470 may not be taken as an audit course.

LAW 490: Coordinating Seminar

This seminar is a capstone course designed to integrate all prior course work with real world experience and case studies. The course includes preparation of a senior project in which the student demonstrates the application of paralegal skills in a practical setting.