How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program near Voluntown Connecticut
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Voluntown CT and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Voluntown homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Voluntown CT lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Voluntown CT is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Connecticut to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies in the field are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Voluntown CT area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Voluntown CT law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Voluntown CT law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Voluntown CT legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Connecticut legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Connecticut or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Voluntown CT area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Voluntown CT. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Voluntown CT, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Voluntown CT?
If you live near Voluntown Connecticut or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The town was named for the English volunteers in the 1675 Indian wars (King Philip's War) who stayed to fight "and went not away". Later land holders included Benedict Arnold, the Maj. General who later conspired unsuccessfully to turn over the plans of West Point, New York to the British and who betrayed his countrymen by leading British troops in battle against them.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 39.8 square miles (103 km2). 38.9 square miles (101 km2) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) of it (2.14%) is covered by surface water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,528 people, 952 households, and 702 families residing in the town. The population density was 65.0 people per square mile (25.1/km²). There were 1,091 housing units at an average density of 28.0 per square mile (10.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.64% White, 0.55% African American, 0.99% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.40% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.19% of the population. 13.2% were of English, 12.5% French Canadian, 11.5% Irish, 9.2% American, 8.9% French, 8.0% Polish, 7.6% Italian, 7.3% German and 5.6% Finnish ancestry according to Census 2000.
Paralegal Major Voluntown CT
Enrolling in the best legal assistant training school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Major. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Voluntown residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Voluntown CT.
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