Certificate Program Course Descriptions

LA-1 Introduction to Law

Begin with an examination of the history of law from the earliest known legal decision to the present. Additional topics include: the two primary legal systems in modern society; American theories of jurisprudence; and the role of law in American society. American law is studied through a comparison of Florida and Federal courts, criminal and civil law, substantive and procedural law, and trial and appellate law. Several topics that are tested by the National Association of Legal Assistants’ Certified Paralegal Examination are studied.
If you decide to enroll in the Paralegal Certificate Program after completing this course, you will need to meet the admission requirements of the Program. LA-1 Introduction to Law is the first course in the sequence of twelve.

LA-2 Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

Focus on (i) various ways to own property and the consequences of same at death; (ii) the manner in which assets pass by intestacy; (iii) powers of attorney and advance directives; (iv) “homestead” for ad valorem tax purposes, asset protection purposes and devise and descent purposes; (v) the manner of creating valid wills and amending and revoking same; (vi) changes in circumstances after execution of a will, including marriage, divorce and after born children; (vii) spouse’s elective share; (viii) grounds for contesting a will, including lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence; (ix) the purpose and use of revocable and irrevocable trusts; (x) constructive and resulting trusts; and (xi) federal gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes and means of reducing tax liability through the use of life insurance trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, charitable trusts and family limited partnerships.

LA-3 Real Property Law

All phases of real estate practice are studied. Topics include: residential and commercial contracts; the process from listing a piece of property through closing; various forms of property ownership and restrictions; financing (types of mortgages); types of title insurance matters (liens vs. permitted acceptable items); construction-related matters (liens/notices required); types of deeds; taxation; homestead; loans; residential and commercial leases; eviction proceedings; foreclosure; litigation; and preparation of closing statements. The goal is to give you the knowledge to understand a basic residential contract, understand a title insurance commitment, prepare all documentation relating to closings, and the various issues involved in a real estate practice.

LA-4 Civil Litigation

The primary focus is on civil litigation in Florida. Included are: sources of law, jurisdiction, venue, pleading requirements in civil actions, motion practice, third party practice, all aspects of discovery, trial preparation, trial procedure, post-trial motions and appeals, and post-judgment enforcement. The course will provide an understanding of civil litigation as it is practiced in Florida, with emphasis on practical aspects of litigation. In addition, you will learn how to prepare for a trial and how to assist the attorney in handling a civil matter from initial interview through trial.

LA-5 Contract Law

The broad application of contract law is kept in mind during the exploration of what makes some promises enforceable. Areas of discussion include: how the concepts of offer, acceptance and consideration are combined to create enforceable contracts; what happens when one or more elements is missing; and the performance and breach of contracts. You will be invited to apply your learning to real-world situations through discussions of contract disputes in the news, hypothetical situations based on current events and by drafting exercises that challenge you to create unambiguous provisions.

LA-6 Criminal Law

This course involves the study of both substantive and procedural criminal law. Substantive criminal law is introduced first by focusing on the criminal justice system itself. We then examine the elements of the various offenses and defenses. We conclude the first part of the class by studying factual, statutory, and constitutional defenses to crimes. The second part of the class focuses on criminal procedure. We study the constitutional aspects of search and seizure law, interrogation, pre-trial process and discovery, trial, sentencing, and appeal.

LA-7 Personal Injury

This course includes an in depth examination of the elements making up a cause of action based on negligence; the study of intentional torts such as assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, actions based on strict liability and product liability, as well as other aspects of personal injury. Topics of discussion include: the various documents used in personal injury cases (complaints, answers, affirmative defenses); discovery documents used in preparation for trial (interrogatories, requests to produce and requests for admission); and the use of other pre-trial and trial documents and exhibits and how they are used in personal injury actions. You will learn the fundamental elements of personal injury causes of action, settlement negotiations, mediation, and arbitration.  The goal of the course is achieved through both the text and the use of actual case documents and experiences, with an emphasis on practical application.

LA-8 Effective Legal Research

Students will become acquainted with the fundamentals of legal research and citation. Students will also learn to use and locate primary and secondary sources and will gain exposure to various resources of legal research.
NOTE: This course is a prerequisite to LA-9 Research Writing.

LA-9 Research Writing

Research Writing is a continuation of Effective Legal Research and includes exercises in grammatical construction and legal writing. Students will become acquainted with the fundamentals of legal writing and learn to pre-sent legal analysis in a logical concise format.
Prerequisite: Effective Legal Research.

LA-10 Probate

You will be introduced to the principles of probate law in Florida. Topics for study include: the role of the attorney and personal representative, probate vs. non-probate assets, testate vs. intestate estates, creditor and beneficiary rights, accountings, probate litigation and federal estate taxes as well as trust administration. You will learn to administer an estate from beginning to end, including formal, summary and ancillary administrations, and you will be required to prepare pleadings after a study of the Florida probate code.

LA-11 Corporations

You will study sole proprietorship and general and limited partnerships, with a special emphasis on corporations. Topics include: corporate formation, articles of incorporation and by-laws, sub-chapter S, corporate financial structure, operation, meetings, dividends, distributions, employment, steps after formation, foreign corporations, and corporate taxation.

LA-12 Domestic Relations

Addresses the issues of family law in the U.S. Included topics are: valid marriages, annulments, divorce, property distribution, paternity, child custody, and support. Adoption may also be covered. Students will develop a working knowledge of the pleadings, motions, discovery involving, jurisdictional and venue issues relating to and involving family law.