Legal Studies


The Legal Studies Certificate is a 1-year distance program that can be paired with an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree. The program is tailored to meet the needs of those interested in pursuing paralegal work in law firms, government agencies, public administration, legal justice, and health insurance. Post-baccalaureate students will only need to complete certificate.

Program Listing Certificate Type
Legal Studies Certificate of Applied Science

The program is approved by the American Bar Association and is also considered a University of Montana Program of Distinction.

What to expect

The Legal Studies program offers students a stable launch pad to enter the field of law. Students can expect a blend of practical education and career readiness. Students will immerse themselves in areas such as legal writing/drafting, terminology, the function of law, interviewing, and preparing for trial. Participants will be well prepared to enter the workforce upon program completion or pursue further academic interests if they choose.

Program Highlights

  • Classes taught remotely and online, offering students across Montana easy access to education.
  • Students will build a wide array of legal knowledge and applicable skills related to the field.
  • Students are led by experienced faculty and industry professionals.
  • Students participate in a 90-hour internship, often paid.
  • Students can expect a significant emphasis on research and writing, learning how to enhance and apply these skills in a professional setting.
  • Students will be part of a diverse cohort and supportive learning environment.


After completing the Legal Studies program, students will receive ABA-approved certificate.  Students will be prepped and ready to enter a career in law or utilize transferable credits to further pursue academic interests.

This program is approved by the American Bar Association. The Paralegal Studies program prepares students for challenging and diverse careers in private law practices and in the law-related areas of business, industry, and government.

The goals of the Legal Studies program are to enable students, through theoretical and practical legal education, to understand the function of law, to work as paralegals in the effective delivery of legal services, and to enhance the legal profession. This program is designed to equip students with skills to analyze legal issues and perform a variety of activities including drafting legal documents, interviewing clients, conducting legal research, and preparing cases for trial. Students utilize current technology through Internet research and legal and general office software applications.

Legal studies students receive the necessary legal training to take advantage of new career opportunities in all sectors of the economy. Students are exposed to the principles of legal ethics and are cautioned regarding restrictions against the unauthorized practice of law by layperson. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

Legal Specialty Transfer

The number of credits allowed for transfer is less than 50% pursuant to Montana State Board of Regents policy.  The CAS degree requires the completion of 33 Legal Specialty credits for graduation. Therefore, to graduate from Missoula College-University of Montana Paralegal Studies program, a student may only transfer in less than 18 legal specialty credits and no more than 30 total program transfer credits.

Transfer credits must be from an accredited post-secondary institution, earned within the past 10 years, include comparable course content, and receive prior approval by the Program Director.

The policy for accepting the transfer of legal specialty credits requires the Program Director’s review of all proposed credits to evaluate the course description, content, and quality of work in the course.  If necessary, the Program Director interviews the student proposing the transfer and the professor of the proposed transfer class to verify the information.

Specifically: (1) the proposed transfer class must be: completed within the past 10 years; (2) must be offered by an accredited institution; (3) must be comparable in content and credit with a class offered in the Program; and must receive the Program Director’s prior approval.

In evaluating legal specialty courses for transfer, the Program Director discusses the proposed award with the Associate Dean. If the award of credit seems reasonable, the Program Director and the student discuss the appropriate challenge and/or examination and score necessary to grant the award of credit. (To date, awards of credit have been made by portfolio presentation).

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