Undergraduate Catalog 2021-2022

Professional Legal Studies, Bachelor of Arts (6000)

Department website: https://www.wku.edu/political-science/


Program Coordinator

Julia F. Shadoan, julie.shadoan@wku.edu, (270) 780-2539

The Professional Legal Studies Program prepares paralegals, also called legal assistants, to work with lawyers in a wide range of professional settings and perform tasks that include legal research, legal writing and document preparation, information gathering, litigation support, legal technology support, and office management. Paralegals are an integral part of the legal process enhancing the delivery of legal services and access to justice.

Paralegals shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law as proscribed by Kentucky law and the Supreme Court Rules (SCR 3.130 [5.5]) and must be appropriately supervised by a lawyer to ensure the paralegal’s conduct is compatible with the professional and ethical standards of the practice (SCR 3.130 [5.3]).

The objectives of the Professional Legal Studies Program are:

  1. To create, implement, and maintain a strong, flexible program directed to the quality education of occupationally-competent paralegals;
  2. To provide a paralegal education program that leads to employment of its graduates by a wide range of employers;
  3. To provide paralegals with a well-rounded, balanced education founded on a beneficial mix of general education, theory, and practical courses stressing understanding and reasoning rather than rote learning of facts;
  4. To support federal, Kentucky and local Rules of Procedure and general principles of ethical legal practice, professional responsibility, the prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers, and the use and supervision of paralegals by lawyers;
  5. To provide an educational program that is responsive to the varied needs of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the region and contributes to the overall advancement of the legal profession and access to justice;
  6.  To provide a program which instills respect for the legal profession and its foundations, institutions, and quest for justice; and
  7. To maintain equality of opportunity in the educational program without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, natural origin, gender, age, disability or economic need.

Credits from other accredited institutions of higher education may be transferred and applied toward the degree. An official transcript from each such college or university attended is required as a part of the admission process. Postsecondary credit will be evaluated on a course-by-course basis for acceptance and applicability to the Program.

General law and legal-specialty course credits will be accepted only from paralegal programs approved by the American Bar Association or programs in substantial compliance with the ABA guidelines.

The Professional Legal Studies Program (PLS) is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary educational experience integrating knowledge and skills from multiple subjects including law, history, sociology, political science, technology and business. The PLS Program requires 42 credit hours and leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Degrees will be awarded to those students who complete all requirements with an overall grade point average of 2.0 (out of 4.0) and receive a grade of “C” or better in all PLS courses.

Program Requirements (42 hours)

A baccalaureate degree requires a minimum of 120 unduplicated semester hours. More information can be found at www.wku.edu/registrar/degree_certification.php.

Students who began WKU in the Fall 2014 and thereafter should review the Colonnade requirements located at: https://www.wku.edu/colonnade/colonnaderequirements.php.

The Professional Legal Studies major is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary educational experience integrating knowledge and skills from multiple subjects including law, history, sociology, political science, technology and business.  The PLS degree requires 120 credit hours and leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree.  Degrees will be awarded to those students who complete all requirements with an overall grade point average of 2.0 (out of 4.0) and receive a grade of “C” or better in all PLS courses.

Core Courses
PLS 225Introduction to Law3
PLS 200Legal Ethics3
PLS 250Legal Research and Writing I3
PLS 283Property Law3
PLS 291Criminal Law and Procedure3
PLS 296Family Law3
PS 326Constitutional Law3
or PLS 324 Women and the Law
or PLS 375 Comparative Legal Systems
PLS 393Civil Procedure3
PLS 450Legal Research and Writing II3
PLS 499Internship in Paralegal Studies3
Electives (12 hours)
Select 12 hours from the following:12
Contract Law
Tort Law
Administrative Practice and Procedures
Women and the Law
EVIDENCE
Debtor Creditor Relations
Comparative Legal Systems
Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods and Practices
Corporate Law
Estate Planning and Administration
Criminology
Juvenile Delinquency
Penology
Sociology of Criminal Law
Judicial Process
State Government
Public Policy
The Legislative Process
Constitutional Law
International Organization and Law
Kentucky Government and Politics
American Legal History to 1865
American Legal History Since 1865
Or an advisor approved course
Total Hours42

A minor or second major is required.  

Students must complete nine hours of legal specialty courses in synchronous format.

Finish in Four Plan

First Year
FallHoursSpringHours
ENG 1003ENG 2003
MATH 109 or MATH 1833HIST 101 or HIST 1023
PLS 2253COMM 1453
World Language Requirement I3World Language Requirement II3
PLS 2003PLS 2833
 15 15
Second Year
FallHoursSpringHours
Colonnade: Arts & Humanities3Colonnade: Natural & Physical Sciences (3 of 6 hours)3
PS 1103PLS 2963
PLS 2913PLS 4503
PLS 25032nd Major/Minor Course3
2nd Major/Minor Course32nd Major/Minor Course3
 15 15
Third Year
FallHoursSpringHours
Colonnade: Natural & Physical Sciences with lab3Colonnade: Connections (Social & Cultural)3
PLS Elective (1 of 4)3PLS 3933
PLS 324, PLS 375, or PS 3263PLS Elective (2 of 4)3
ENG 30032nd Major/Minor Course3
2nd Major/Minor Course32nd Major/Minor Course3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallHoursSpringHours
Colonnade: Connections (Local to Global)3PLS Elective (3 of 4)3
Colonnade: Connections (Systems)32nd Major/Minor Course3
PLS Elective (3 of 4)32nd Major/Minor Course3
2nd Major/Minor Course32nd Major/Minor Course3
2nd Major/Minor Course3PLS 4993
 15 15
Total Hours 120