May 26, 2024  
2022-2023 Catalog 
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Paralegal and Legal Studies A.A.S.

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Degree: Associate in Applied Science
HEGIS Code: 5099
Curriculum Code: 691.PAR
Campus Location: City

Business & Public Service Division

Pre-Admission Recommendations: Completion of Developmental English or ability to take EN110 (College Level English)
Career Opportunities/Further Education: Law, Banking, Real Estate, Insurance, Healthcare administration, Government


Program Description

Changing patterns within the American legal system, along with the increased demands that have been placed on the services of the legal community, have created a need for a trained corps of legal technicians and paraprofessionals. Openings for trained paralegals are not limited to the legal profession, as the need for their services now exists and will continue to expand within business, industry and the public service sector in the foreseeable future.  According to the Department of Labor statistics, Job Outlook for Paralegals 2012 - 2022, indicates employment opportunities will increase by 17% (faster than average).

The objective of the Paralegal Program is to train students to assume responsible positions in law firms and in other institutions where knowledge of the law is essential. Armed with a broad knowledge of the law and business structures, graduates will be able to work effectively as paralegals under the supervision of an attorney. The Paralegal Program prepares graduates for positions in several areas, including legal offices, insurance offices, bank and trust services, real estate management, credit investigation, title abstracting, healthcare administration, computer software licensing, corporate offices and public service.  An increasing number of Paralegal graduates continue on to a four-year degree.  Some of them use this as a path to Law School

The curriculum offers the broad base necessary to withstand the demands of a paralegal career. Accordingly, the paralegal courses have been selected to provide sufficient legal theory for a comprehensive understanding of the reasons for, as well as, the nature and function of the many duties required of the paralegal with the major emphasis on a practical application of the law in law offices and positions where knowledge of the law is an integral part of the position.


Joint Admissions, Articulation and Advanced Studies Agreements

A Joint Admissions Agreement is in place with SUNY at Buffalo (U.B.).  A student who graduates with an A.A.S. in Paralegal Studies from SUNY Erie will be allowed to transfer their credits with full junior status into the U.B. Legal Studies ProgramAgreements are also in place with Canisius College (Professional and Technical Studies Program), Daemen College (Paralegal Program) and Hilbert College (Paralegal Program).  The Paralegal Program at SUNY Erie has also entered into Advanced Studies Agreements with six (6) area high schools to offer the Paralegal Introductory course, PA205-Introduction to Law, which is also approved as a SUNY General Education Social Science elective. This allows the Paralegal Program to offer high school students the opportunity to earn college credit(s).

Program Competencies

Upon graduation with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies, the graduate will be able to:


  • recognize the Constitution as a Supreme Law and as a framework for government and explain how each branch of government makes law at both the Federal and State level;
  • define and describe differences between Civil and Criminal Law.  Apply rules of practice and procedure to illustrate steps in the civil litigation process, apply facts to draft basic pleadings and motions in civil and criminal matters;
  • define and be able to explain Substantive Rules of Law and Procedural Rules as they apply in the areas of:
    • Real Estate - Apply these rules to complete all aspects of a hypothetical real estate closing
    • Contracts - Apply these rules to complete a hypothetical contract negotiation, recognize rules and identify exceptions
    • Tax Practice - Describe tax rules for individuals and various types of businesses, identify sources of Tax Law and demonstrate the ability to complete an individual tax return
    • Business Structures - Define and explain the Law of Agency, recognize business structures, create a Partnership Agreement and a business plan (for a Sole Proprietorship)
    • Criminal Law - Recognize and define New York Criminal Procedures Law and New York Penal Law and the role of prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers
    • Family Law - Define and discuss New York Family Law, recognize parental duties and obligations
    • Estates - Define and discuss the role of the Surrogate Judge and the purpose and function of Surrogate Court
    • Tort Law - Define and discuss various causes of action in negligence and apply procedural rules to resolve discovery disputes
  • use a computer to do basic legal research, demonstrate the ability to find law to support a legal argument.  Prepare a legal memorandum applying law to the facts to make a persuasive legal argument.  Demonstrate knowledge in the area of law office management through hands-on use of computer programs and different office technology and equipment;
  • apply basic rules of Ethics that govern the practice of law; be able to locate and apply State Disciplinary Rules and the Code of Professional Conduct; and
  • apply substantive and procedural law in an applied learning environment (internship).



Total Degree Credits: 61.0

First Year, Fall Semester

Second Year, Fall Semester

Second Year, Spring Semester


NOTE: This is a recommended sequence. Student should consult his/her academic adviser prior to registering.

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