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Blog: Intro to Paralegal Practice and Ethics

I am two weeks into my first paralegal course ~ Introduction to Paralegal Practice and Ethics. I didn’t want to wait until the Fall quarter to take my first paralegal course, so I opted for the condensed five and a half week online course given in the summer. This course moves quickly and I haven’t had much time to catch my breath, but I wanted to tell you what we’ve accomplished so far.

Our first assignment was to read about the sources of law and about how laws are created. We touched on the Magna Carta and discussed the U.S. Constitution ~ you know, stuff we all learned in high school.

Our first forum discussion was about the First Amendment. Our assignment was to argue both sides of whether or not X-rated material should be regulated on the internet; and if we had any alternatives to laws like the Computer Decency Act, which was deemed unconstitutional. It was interesting to read everyone’s forum post. As you would expect, people are passionate about the First Amendment.

We then learned about the Supremacy Clause and why it’s important that state law not conflict with federal law. We explored what might happen if states were authorized to govern individually without any federal dictates. It was fun to stretch my mind and hypothesize about what could possibly happen in cases such as gun ownership and immigration if states ruled.

We then moved on to the federal and state court systems. Of course, no introductory paralegal course would be complete without creating a chart showing how you would appeal a case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and then create another chart on how your local court system operates. Of course, information on the federal courts is easy to find. (http://tinyurl.com/federalcourts) But just try to find information about South Dakota’s court system. Go ahead, try it . . . I’m waiting . . . . It’s not easy, it is? I ended up reading a long pamphlet about the South Dakota Unified Judicial Court System just to create a simple flow chart. Ugh. On the bright side, I know more about our local court system than I probably need to at this point in the class!

Back to studying!

By Michelle Diehl, a non traditional student on her way to becoming a paralegal.

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