Paralegal Studies Certificate

Gain the knowledge and skills to succeed in the legal field

Program Fast Facts

  • Start date: February 26, 2022
  • Saturdays
    9 a.m. – 4 p.m. CDT
  • Live Online
  • 6 months
  • 5,495 Priority Tuition
    (expires 2/11/22)
    $5,745 Standard Tuition


The SMU Paralegal Studies Certificate program includes seven courses for a total of 129 hours of content. In these interactive, engaging classes, you will learn from experts, collaborate with your peers and complete hands-on projects that provide practical application of skills expected of a legal professional. You also will receive instruction on résumé writing and interviewing skills.


This course provides an overview of the legal environment in which a paralegal works. Topics include fundamental legal concepts and foundation of the common law legal tradition, the operation of the Texas and federal court systems, the role of government in the legal system, basic constitutional principles, and the basics of attorney/paralegal ethics.

In this course, you will:

  • Understand the role of paralegals in the legal system and the general tasks that may and may not be performed by a paralegal
  • Identify the ethical duties that are imposed on both attorneys and paralegals
  • Distinguish between the federal and Texas state court systems
  • Understand the foundational elements of the common law legal tradition
    Identify the constitutional framework for the U.S. legal system

Torts are civil wrongs that do not arise from a contractual relationship. Learn the differences between negligence, intentional torts and strict liability.

In this course you will:

  • Identify and distinguish the differences between the elements of negligence
  • Explain the defenses to negligence
  • Discuss the discovery of medical records by both the plaintiff and the defendant
  • Understand intentional torts, strict/product liability, defenses and immunities
  • Discover the paralegal’s role in assisting with the evaluation and preparation of tort cases

Gain the essential skills of analysis and write basic legal documents. Utilize the online Westlaw database to develop legal research skills. Understand proper Bluebook and Greenbook citation formats and how to draft various important legal communications.

In this course you will:

  • Identify and distinguish the differences between primary and secondary legal authority
  • Understand the mechanics of legal research tools
  • Conduct online legal research
  • Use proper Bluebook and Greenbook citation format for legal authorities.
  • Research primary authority and conduct legal analysis
  • Format and draft basic legal memoranda and other legal documents

Understand the role of the paralegal in preparing for and assisting with civil litigation, with an emphasis on Texas state court litigation. Learn how the rules of procedure and evidence govern state and federal litigation and understand the similarities and differences between federal and state court litigation rules and practice.

In this course you will:

  • Learn how to calculate litigation deadlines and manage a litigation docket
  • Draft pleadings, discovery, and other litigation documents
  • Understand how to use the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Gain experience with the mechanics of trial and witness preparation and responding to discovery
  • Identify fundamental evidentiary and appellate principles

This course will provide a general introduction to the use of legal technology, including electronic court filing, e-discovery, and legal specialty software. It includes hands-on computer exercises using basic and specialty applications frequently used in the legal profession.

In this course you will:

  • Understand the fundamentals of E-Discovery in state and federal court
  • Distinguish various legal software commonly used in the legal profession
  • Learn the mechanics of Federal and Texas E-Filing
  • Explore Microsoft Office applications and techniques commonly used in the legal profession

Review the basic requirements of contract formation and the role of paralegals in drafting simple contracts. Written assignments include drafting of contractual provisions.

In this class you will:

  • Define what constitutes a legally binding contract, the obligations associated with a legally binding contract, and remedies for breach
  • Understand the impact of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) on contract law, and when to apply the UCC in contract analysis
  • Understand basic principles of contract law and interpretation
  • Draft a basic contract

This course provides a broad overview of various areas of substantive law to expose the legal professional to different specialty areas. Topics include family law, real and intellectual property, bankruptcy, business organizations and corporate law, criminal law and procedure, and wills and trusts.

In this course you will learn:

  • The types of relief available for debtors under Federal bankruptcy law and the procedures involved in a bankruptcy proceeding
  • The organization and operation of common forms of business organizations and how profits, losses, risks, and liabilities are distributed
  • Real property rights and interests and the procedures involved in the sale of real estate
  • Forms of intellectual property, how it is acquired, and the remedies for infringement
  • Fundamental concepts and terminology in Family Law, Criminal Law and Procedure and Wills & Trusts
  • The paralegal’s role in each of these specialty areas

Learn tips, tricks, and important resources to help you stand out in search for a career in the paralegal field.

In this course you will:

  • Learn how to prepare a persuasive, professional cover letter
  • Identify methods of showcasing your talent with an effective resume for a new career or career advancement