How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Lewes Delaware
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Lewes DE and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their Lewes homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Lewes DE lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions 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, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Lewes DE is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Delaware to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Lewes DE area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Lewes DE law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Lewes DE law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Lewes DE legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Delaware legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Delaware or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within the Lewes DE region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Lewes DE. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Lewes DE, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Lewes DE?
If you live near Lewes Delaware or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Lewes (/ˈluːɪs/ LOO-iss) is an incorporated city on the Delaware Bay in eastern Sussex County, Delaware. According to the 2010 census, the population is 2,747. Along with neighboring Rehoboth Beach, Lewes is one of the principal cities of Delaware's rapidly growing Cape Region. The city lies within the Salisbury, Maryland–Delaware Metropolitan Statistical Area. Lewes proudly claims to be "The First Town in The First State."
Lewes was the site of the first European settlement in Delaware, a whaling and trading post that Dutch settlers founded on June 3, 1631 and named Zwaanendael (Swan Valley). The colony had a short existence, as a local tribe of Lenape Native Americans wiped out the 32 settlers in 1632.
The area remained rather neglected by the Dutch until, under the threat of annexation from the English colony of Maryland, the city of Amsterdam made a grant of land at the Hoernkills (the area around Cape Henlopen, near the current town of Lewes) to a group of Mennonites for settlement in 1662. A total of 35 men were to be included in the settlement, led by a Pieter Cornelisz Plockhoy of Zierikzee and funded by a sizable loan from the city to get them established. The settlement was established in 1663, but the timing of the settlement was terrible: In 1664, the English wrested New Netherland from the Dutch, and they had the settlement destroyed with British reports indicating that “not even a nail” was left there.
Paralegal Schooling Requirements Lewes DE
Selecting the best paralegal certificate program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Schooling Requirements. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Lewes residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Lewes DE.
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