Program Details

Paralegal Studies photo

The Paralegal Studies Program at Cal State LA has been American Bar Association (ABA) approved since 1978, making it one of the earliest approved programs in a university setting in California. A successful student must complete eight courses (the equivalent of 32 continuing education units), earning a minimum grade of “C” in each course, to receive a certificate of completion. Students may complete a "general" track, emphasizing legal writing, or one of three "specialty" tracks: in Litigation, Corporate Practice or Legal Technology. Students may pursue more than one specialty track by substituting up to 2 courses (no more than 8 units) from one track to another, although most "dual specialties" will require more than 8 courses to finish. We also require students to attend a Student Information meeting and at least one program workshop in Career Development. Such attendance is a requirement of graduation and will help facilitate placement of our graduates in the legal profession at the program's conclusion.

Expected Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the Paralegal Studies program will be prepared to:

  • Understand and use legal terminology
  • Conduct effective legal research and write competently in legal conventions
  • Have a practical knowledge of the workings of the court system to use appropriate practice forms, and to understand filing procedures and deadlines
  • Perform general paralegal tasks, such as interviewing clients; conducting investigations; assisting with law office management, and using legal practice software
  • Develop a specialty area of practice such as litigation, corporate law; criminal procedure; family law; or immigration; and
  • Observe the ethical standards of paralegal practice, including avoiding the “unauthorized practice of law,” and preserving client confidentiality.

These basic learning outcomes prepare the student for the professional competencies needed to meet the American Bar Association's definition of a paralegal: "a person employed by a law office, corporate legal department, or public entity to carry out specifically delegated, substantive legal work under the supervision of an attorney. A paralegal is not an attorney and may not give legal advice, accept cases, argue in court, or set fees."

Rotation of Course Offerings

The program for students seeking the Paralegal Studies certificate consists of: (a) required "core" courses - these are the 4 courses required in all specialty tracks and the general track; (b) courses required for a particular legal specialty; and (c) elective courses, including a quarter of internship experience eligible for 4 units of credit.

The courses of the core curriculum are: (1) PLS 750 "Role of the Paralegal;" (2) PLS 752 "Legal Research;" (3) PLS 755 "Law Office Technology;" and (4) PLS 760 "Civil Procedure I," and these courses are offered in most quarters, and at least in 3 out of the 4 quarters making up an academic year. Required courses for a legal specialty track are generally offered in alternate quarters (such as Fall and Spring); or, in the case of the Corporate law series, in successive quarters. Finally, elective courses are offered on a rotational basis so that they are generally available at least one quarter per academic year. However, as all extension classes must be self-sustaining, scheduled courses may be cancelled in a particular quarter for insufficient enrollments. This may require students to wait an additional quarter in order to take a course needed in their individual Program plan. (See Course Descriptions, below).

Course Description

PLS 750 The Role of the Paralegal
Course covers the role and functions of the paralegal in the modern  law  office. Includes introduction to the court system, sources of law, legal procedures and issues of ethics and professional responsibility.

PLS 752 Legal Research
Introduces students to sources, tools, and techniques of modern legal research, including on-line research, and the use of research databases such Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis.

PLS 753 Legal Writing
Helps students develop a clear prose style for the variety of writing tasks paralegals will be assigned, including, preparing pleadings; summarizing research in briefs and memoranda; drafting documents; and composing correspondence. Students receive systematic critique of their writing.

PLS 755 Law Office Technology
Provides systematic background on computer uses for the law office and court environments; coverage includes legal applications of the Microsoft Office® suite of programs; preparation of pleadings and electronic filing; and specialized timekeeping; billing; and calendaring programs.

PLS 756 Family Law
Course introduces basic concepts of family law, with special reference to California law, including the obligations of Parent and Child; forms and validity of marriage; marital property rights; and issues incident to dissolution of marriage.

PLS 757 Real Estate for the Paralegal
Course covers the role and function of the paralegal in real property transactions. Examines basic concepts and procedures of real estate law, including interests and conveyances in real property, escrow and title insurance, and tax considerations of property ownership.

PLS 759 Entertainment Law
A survey of the contractual and intellectual property issues relating to compensation of entertainers, athletes, and artists.  Issues of licensing and residual rights; and contracts for production of television and film projects are covered.

PLS 760 Civil Procedure I
Introduction to pleading and practice in the California civil law system, including initiating a lawsuit, filing and answering a complaint; venue and jurisdiction of the California courts, and process of obtaining personal jurisdiction over a party.

PLS 761 Civil Procedure II
Prerequisite: PLS760 or consent of instructor.  Course explores discovery procedures, including review of the California Code of Civil Procedure and practical application of discovery tools, in the preparation of a case for trial.

PLS 762 Civil Procedure IlI
Prerequisite: PLS761 or consent of instructor. Course provides an introduction to pre-trial, and  post-trial motions and procedures and covers the role of paralegal in the satisfaction of a judgment.

PLS 763 Probate Procedures
Surveys the basic practice and procedures for settling a decedent’s estate through the court process of probate. Coverage of Wills, trusts, incapacity planning for elderly clients; role of Executor or estate representative in estate administration, and the settling of disputes as to a decedent’s property.

PLS 764 Applied Legal Technology
Reviews basic computer uses in the law office, moving to an introduction to database management systems, such as Concordance ®, that support electronic discovery. 
Introduces the concept of the paperless office, exposure to office management software, case organization and management software, litigation support, presentation and trial graphics, and the electronic courthouse.  Introduction to common software programs such as CaseMap, TimeMap and Visionary.®

PLS 765 Computer Forensics
This is an offering in our new Legal Technology specialty track. The course covers computer investigations, or ‘data mining’ of electronic sources to recover, preserve, and retrieve evidence for trial. Recovery of email trails, archived and deleted material, and cell phone information are examples of areas covered in this introduction to “high-tech” investigations.

PLS 766 Corporate Law for the Paralegal I
Considers choice of business entity, and covers basic concepts of agency law, business forms of sole proprietorship, general and limited partnerships, and limited liabilities companies, as well as corporations.  Introduces the procedures to form and maintain a California, for-profit corporation, and briefly covers corporate financing and issuance of stock. 

PLS 767 Corporate Law for the Paralegal II
Offers more advanced coverage of corporate legal issues, especially those involving corporate management and the relations between shareholders, directors, officers, and creditors.  Focuses on the rights of corporate investors and the duties of corporate officers and managers.

PLS 768 Securities Law
Prerequisite: PLS 767 or consent of instructor.  Course examines theoretical and procedural aspects of state and federal securities regulation. Reporting and disclosure requirements under Federal law role of the S.E.C. and regulation to curtail fraud in securities trading.

PLS 770 Criminal Law for the Paralegal
A course in the substantive and procedural criminal law of California. Emphasis on the role and functions of the paralegal in the criminal law office, but conceptual framework on the elements of a crime, sentencing requirements and guidelines; and the Juvenile Justice system.

PLS 771 Trial Technology
Prerequisite: PLS 755, Law Office Technology, or consent of instructor. An elective course in the new Legal Technology track, the course examines the use of computer presentations at trial, including graphics, text enhancement, and video clips. Introduces such programs as Sanction, Visionary and Trial Director.

PLS 772 e-Discovery / Database Design
An important course in the Technology specialty track dealing with the portions of the “Electronic Discovery Reference Model” (EDRM) relating to preservation, analysis, and retrieval of materials received in the discovery process. Database design facilitates sorting electronic discovery items for relevance to a particular issue in a case, and provides for efficient retrieval of information in litigation support.

PLS 774 Intellectual Property
Coverage of Copyright law; patents and trademarks, and the paralegal’s role in initial registration and subsequent protection of these rights of authorship, scientific and technological research, and creative processes.

PLS 775 Workers Compensation Law for the Paralegal
Coverage of Workers’ Compensation practice, including typical on-the-job injuries and methods of compensation of victims. Coverage of the Administrative Law process and procedures.

PLS 780 Law of the Internet
May be taken as part of the Legal Technology track or as an independent elective.  Explores the range of legal issues related to both commercial and non-commercial uses of the Internet, including the law’s role in e-commerce and social media.  Examines the rights and duties of those who use the internet. 

PLS 781 Immigration Law
Provides the student with the content of substantive immigration law, including the Visa system, process of naturalization, and the practicalities of dealing with the INS and Dept. of Homeland Security.

PLS 782 Practicum: Public Or Private Sector
Prerequisite: Completion of core courses,PLS 750, 752, 755, and 760. Allows students to participate in an internship. Is available each quarter, but students must contact Lisa Rauhauser, the program’s external coordinator, one quarter ahead of the quarter in which they plan to take the Practicum. This enables us to place the student with a law firm or public agency.

PLS 783 Interviewing and Investigation for the Paralegal
Presents principles and investigative techniques to collect information from, and  preserve the testimony of, witnesses, parties, and experts in both civil and criminal  cases. 

PLS 784 Bankruptcy Law for the Paralegal
Provides an introduction to the Federal Bankruptcy law, with an emphasis on the role of the paralegal in the bankruptcy process.  Includes coverage of laws governing the creditor and debtor relationship.

PLS 786 Contract Law for Paralegals
Introduces students to the basic principles governing contract formation including offer and acceptance, consideration, and legality and capacity. Considers elements of contract drafting and remedies for breach of contract - including in the context of modern e-commerce. Recommended business elective in the Corporate specialty track.


Cynthia Aragon, Esq. is a member of the State Bar of California, and practices as in-house counsel. She also teaches courses in corporate formation and securities regulation.

Kerry Ayazi, J.D., is a member of the California Bar and the chief compliance officer for a large, non-profit health agency.

Amy Cohen, Esq. is a member of the California Bar. Ms. Cohen specializes in business and probate litigation and her teaching interests include Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law, in addition to Civil Procedure.

Todd Frankel, M.S., is a paralegal supervisor with the Los Angeles office of a global law firm; his background is in litigation support for the employment law division of his firm. He uses legal technology extensively in his practice.

Myla Friedman, M.S., received her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from CSULA. She is a senior paralegal in the mitigation unit of the L.A. County Public Defender’s office.

Cheryl Garner is a senior paralegal specializing in litigation support with a large Los Angeles law firm. She is a member of the The Litigation Committee of the Los Angeles Paralegal Association (LAPA).

Lauralee Gooch, J.D., Attorney at Law, Member of the State Bar of California, Associate in Corporate Practice Group, Ervin Cohen & Jessup, LLP.

Peter Hong, J.D., is a member of the California Bar, specializing in defense of workers’ compensation and employment discrimination claims. He has broad legal interests, and also teaches Legal Writing in our program.

Merdaud Jafarnia, J.D., is a member of the California Bar currently practicing bankruptcy law with a regional California law firm.

Hudena James, J.D., Litigation Paralegal, 25 years of experience in personal injury and medical malpractice, workers’ comp, and in bankruptcy and corporate law.

Robin Sax-Katzenstein, J.D., Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County, Instructor in the Cal State School of Criminal Justice, and Founding Director/President, STAAFF (Stop the Abuse Against Families Foundation), Member of the State Bar of California and Member of the California District Attorney Association.

Bowe Kurowski was formerly manager of the practice support department of a large Los Angeles law firm, and currently works in the area of legal recruitment. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Paralegal Studies Program.

Nicole Lucy, J.D., Attorney and Member of the State Bar of California, currently now directs the Paralegal training program at College of the Canyons, Valencia, CA.

Courtney Medina, J.D., a member of the California Bar, practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, and general litigation. Ms. Medina also has experience in Family Law and corporate practice. Instructor Viken Mouradian, J.D., Member of the State Bar of California (inactive status). Mr. Mouradian, a graduate of USC Law School, has extensive experience in real estate practice.

Libby Pace is an experienced paralegal with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s office.

Rene Ramos, J.D., Criminal Law Attorney with 26 years in private practice, Member of the State Bar of California, the Mexican American Bar Association, and the California Public Defenders Associates.

Lisa Rauhauser, is a certificated paralegal in real estate and corporate practice. Lisa has extensive professional background in legal recruitment and placement.

Rhonda Reid, B.A., Paralegal Litigation support manager, Allen Matkins. Rhonda, a former president of the L.A. Paralegal Association (LAPA), teaches several courses in the program’s technology track.

Donald Scoggins, Esq., is a member of the State Bar of California, and a sole practitioner in Los Angeles emphasizing the practice areas of estate planning and probate.

Julie Sparks, J.D. Licensed Attorney, State Bar of Texas, also a licensed teacher, in private practice as a specialist in immigration law.

Shivonne Theresia, J.D., Member of the California State Bar Association

David Wiggins, Esq., is a member of the State Bars of California and of Hawaii and holder of an active secondary California teaching credential. Mr. Wiggins has more than 21 years experience in litigation practice.

Cheryl Winston, B.S., Certified Paralegal Trial Specialist, Certified in CaseMap and Sanction II. Twelve years experience as a litigation paralegal, and in litigation support in major local firms.

Ida Zaghi, J.D., is a graduate of the Benjamin Cardozo Law School in New York City, where she was a member of the national moot court team, and a research assistant to several professors. She is a member of the New York State Bar.