Online Paralegal Applications Certificate

Why Penn Foster?

  • Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Penn Foster’s Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate is designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills needed for specialized paralegal employment. Learn how to perform legal investigations and interviews, assist the litigation attorney in preparing a case, participate in alternative dispute resolution, and take on additional responsibilities in real estate and estate administration matters. You can transfer these course credits to Penn Foster’s Paralegal Studies Associate Degree Program. And you can complete this program in as little as four months!

Curriculum Details

Course 1

PLS114 Conducting Legal Investigations and Interviews

Many paralegals spend a great deal of time talking with clients and/or witnesses. This course will teach you how to effectively interview people and conduct legal investigations.

  • Understand the ethical considerations and responsibilities of the paralegal and the attorney in interviewing.
  • Prepare for and conduct an interview and investigation.
  • Use different types of questions to elicit responses from a variety of people.
  • Summarize the information discovered during the interview and investigation process.
Graded Project: Practicing Your Investigative Skills

This project is designed to practice the important skills you’ve learned about conducting investigations and interviews.

Course 2

PLS121 Torts

A tort is essentially any action that causes harm to a person or property. A good deal of law involves torts, so as a paralegal, you’ll be constantly exposed to tort actions. Your textbook provides many interesting real-life examples of cases involving injured parties. Discover how these cases travel through the legal system, beginning with filing a complaint and ending with settlement, arbitration, or trial.

Objectives:

  • Understand the fundamentals of legal analysis and how to prepare a legal memorandum.
  • Outline an investigative strategy for a personal injury case.
  • Draft a complaint.
  • Understand the tests that establish causation.
  • Characterize strict liability in tort and the elements of and defenses to strict liability in tort.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Torts Personal Injury Litigation, Fourth Edition, by William P. Statsky

Course 3

BUS213 Business Law 1

This course teaches the legal aspects of business today.

Objectives:

  • Understand the judicial process and alternative dispute resolution.
  • Describe different forms of business organization and their characteristics.
  • Identify elements of contracts and rules pertaining to contracts.
  • Understand law of agency and laws concerning employment.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Business Law with UCC Applications, Twelfth Edition, by Gordon W. Brown and Paul A. Sukys

Course 4

PLS205 Civil Litigation

Increasingly, paralegals are involved in litigation support. Litigation involves the use of the court system to resolve disputes. In this course you'll learn about civil litigation as well as the types of courts and the role of court system personnel. 

Objectives:

  • Learn the purpose of litigation and the differences between civil and criminal litigation.
  • Distinguish subject matter jurisdiction and proper venue.
  • Understand the purpose of discovery, different types of discovery, and timing of discovery.
  • Recognize matters that are most and least discoverable.
  • Learn how alternate dispute resolution differs from litigation.
  • Identify and explain new trends in alternate dispute resolution.
Graded Project: Civil Litigation

This project will give you the chance to practice the skills you’ve learned so far in your program. Prepare a draft of a complaint and interrogatories for your supervising attorney’s review; locate an appropriate expert witness; and write a profile of the expert.

Additional Unit Material

Supplement: Selected Federal Civil Rules

Course 5

PLS211 Criminal Litigation

As a paralegal working in the field of criminal law, you must have a thorough knowledge of the names and requirements of the different types of crimes. You must also be familiar with what happens at every stage of a case from start to finish.

Objectives:

  • Describe the actions and defenses to a specific crime.
  • Identify what happens from the time a person is arrested until trial.
  • Describe the constitutional rights of a person charged with a crime.
  • Understand the role of each participant in the criminal litigation process.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Criminal Law and Procedure: An Introduction, Second Edition, by Ronald J. Bacigal

Course 6

PLS213 Family Law

This course will provide you with a solid foundation in the basic legal principles that apply to family law.

Objectives:

  • Understand the origin, development, and current trends in family law.
  • Define the elements of a valid premarital agreement, a no-fault divorce, a fault divorce, and an annulment.
  • Recognize the difference between a traditional ceremonial marriage and a common law marriage.
  • Understand the factors that a court uses to determine child custody, child support, and alimony.
  • Identify the different types of adoption available to parents today
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Family Law, Fifth Edition, by William P. Statsky

Course 7

PLS215 Real Estate Law

The real estate industry—real estate development, construction, sales, leases, and financing—generates a great deal of work for law firms. Paralegals often work with real estate law, and this lesson is designed to teach you the basics. Real estate law varies somewhat from state to state, but most of the principles are the same in all states.

Objectives:

  • Understand the types, content, and preparation of deeds.
  • Understand how real estate is described in deeds.
  • Define and give examples of encumbrances, easements, and licenses.
  • Describe some of the ways government regulates the use of real estate.
  • Describe the components of a real estate purchase contract and the real estate closing process.
  • Explain the role of lawyers and paralegals in the process of real estate financing.
  • List the provisions of a standard lease and explain their purpose.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Practical Real Estate Law, Fifth Edition, by Daniel F. Hinkel

Course 8

PLS217 Wills and Estates

Paralegals often handle matters dealing with wills, trusts, and/or estate administration.

Objectives:

  • Understand statutes and statutory language.
  • Draft a preliminary will for the supervising attorney’s review.
  • Prepare preliminary drafts of the various kinds of trusts.
  • Prepare legal forms to create an estate plan.
  • Apply the procedures and prepare the legal forms used in probate and estate administration.
  • Prepare the tax returns of a decedent’s estate.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Wills, Trusts, and Estate Administration for the Paralegal, Fifth Edition, by Dennis R. Hower


Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view an Advanced Paralegal Applications sample lesson, click here.

Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate Program Details

Penn Foster will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to perform legal investigations and assist attorneys. You'll learn about court practices and procedures and the ethical issues involved in interviews.

Students interested in enrolling in this program should have an educational or work-related background in core paralegal concepts. Students without the necessary prerequisites should consider Penn Foster’s Paralegal Career Diploma Program.

The completion of a certificate-level program does not typically qualify a student for employment. Completion of this program may assist students who have previous academic or work related experience improve their chances for promotion or entry-level employment.

The Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate covers investigation and interview techniques, civil and criminal litigation, principals of tort, wills and estates, and business, family, and real estate law. Here are a few qualities that effective paralegals have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Dependable: Clients and lawyers rely on you to be organized and prepared.
  • Honest: You are honest and ethical in the workplace.
  • Cooperative: You are pleasant and listen to what others have to say regarding projects and tasks.

I just recently graduated. I would definitely recommend Penn Foster to others. Their support was tremendous. Thank you all for the encouragement.... Penn Foster rocks!!!

- Dahlia R., Penn Foster Graduate

Penn Foster is a great way to get ahead in a career and the way the program was set up, even the busiest person can get through it. I'm so glad I found Penn Foster.

- Guiseppe S., Penn Foster graduate

I want to encourage anyone wishing to do a program with Penn Foster. You will get assistance and gain tremendous benefit from Penn Foster.

- Claudia W., Penn Foster Student

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Graduate debt free with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids included
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Advanced Paralegal Applications Certificate academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Is any experience required to enroll in any of the legal services programs?

We recommend that you complete the Paralegal Career Diploma Program or have previous paralegal experience before enrolling for any advanced paralegal classes.

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