Legal Studies

Scales of Justice

2016-2017 Legal Studies Degree Plan

2016-2017 Legal Studies (Pre-Law) Degree Plan


The Legal Studies program at USM offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with the choice of two concentrations: the Pre-Law track or the Legal Studies track.

The Pre-Law track is optimal for any student who plans to pursue advanced education at law school or a law-related course of study in graduate school.

The Legal Studies track consists of an American Bar Association-approved paralegal education program.  It is designed to prepare students to enter the workforce as paralegals upon graduation.

Whichever concentration you choose, the Legal Studies degree is designed to prepare you to function effectively in a number of law-related careers – whether in a private law firm, business, or government environment.

The program also works to connect interested students with internship and employment opportunities in the legal field, before and after graduation.

Contact Prof. Burton for more details:


The mission of the Legal Studies program is to provide students with a well-rounded liberal arts education, bolstered by specialized classes that introduce legal terminology, fundamental legal concepts, and hands-on skills development.


As the legal field has evolved over the last two decades, education for those wanting to work in law-related careers has evolved, as well. While there is a high demand for great attorneys to provide efficient and effective legal assistance, legal professionals are not limited to traditional law firm or courtroom roles. Some legal careers do not require a law degree. For example, although paralegals cannot practice law, they can assist licensed attorneys in meeting the needs of clients and assist in delivering legal services more efficiently and economically.


What can you do with a Legal Studies Degree? For starters, you may

*pursue a career as a paralegal (legal assistant) in private law firms, government offices, banks, corporations, insurance companies, or other businesses

*attend law school to pursue a career as an attorney or judge

*enter public service or politics

*chart your own path To The Top of the legal profession!


******Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.******

For more information, contact:

Angela M. Burton, J.D., Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, USM Gulf Park (

Course description:

PLS 381. Introduction to Paralegalism. 3 hrs. An introduction to the profession, including history and development, ethics, the American legal system and paralegal skills

PLS 382. Civil Litigation. 3 hrs. An introduction to civil litigation — the process of resolving disputes between individuals, businesses and government through the court system, with emphasis on procedure

PLS 383. Legal Research. 3 hrs. A summary of primary and secondary legal sources including reporters, digests, codes, citations, LEXIS, the Internet and other basic research materials

PLS 384. Legal Drafting. 3 hrs. An introduction to writing correspondence, pleadings, discovery, legal memoranda, briefs and other documents used in civil practice

PLS 385. Law Office Computing and Management. 3 hrs. A skills course which introduces computer applications in the law office, including Windows, word processing, automated litigation support and specific law office management applications such as timekeeping, billing and docket control systems

PLS 386. Equity Practice. 3 hrs. A study of the courts of equity and their jurisdiction in the American legal system, with emphasis on domestic relations, wills and estates

PLS 387. Title Searching and Loan Document Preparation. 3 hrs. An introduction to the procedure of title searching and the preparation of loan-closing documents

PLS 388. Commercial Skills for Paralegals. 3 hrs. An introduction to transactional law and related topics, including bankruptcy, debtor-creditor law, intellectual property and formation of business entities

PLS 389. Internship in Legal Studies. 3-9 hrs. Prerequisites: PLS 381, 382, 383, and 384, a GPA of 2.5 and permission of the director; course is open only to legal studies majors.

PLS 490. Advanced Paralegalism. 3 hrs. Prerequisite: Senior standing. A writing-intensive course to provide paralegal majors with a comprehensive review prior to entering the working environment or sitting for the Certified Legal Assistant examination; open only to legal studies majors and to legal studies graduates preparing to sit for the Certified Legal Assistant Examination

PLS 492. Special Problems in Legal Studies. 1-3 hrs. Prerequisite: Consent of the director. Provides the opportunity to pursue a special topic or area of interest. May be repeated for a total of three hours (Students undertaking a Senior Honors project will enroll in PLS H492.)