How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Stafford Kansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Stafford KS and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Stafford homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Stafford KS lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Stafford KS is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Kansas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Stafford KS area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Stafford KS law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Stafford KS law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Stafford KS legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Kansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Kansas or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within the Stafford KS area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Stafford KS. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Stafford KS, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Stafford KS?
If you live near Stafford Kansas or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Stafford was founded in 1878. Like Stafford County, the city was named for Lewis Stafford, a casualty in the Civil War. Stafford was destroyed by a tornado in 1882, and rebuilt within a year. Stafford was incorporated as a city in 1885.
Stafford is located at 37°57′46″N 98°36′4″W / 37.96278°N 98.60111°W / 37.96278; -98.60111 (37.962789, -98.600996). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.92 square miles (2.38 km2), all of it land. It is approximately ninety-two miles northwest of Wichita on U.S. Route 50.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,042 people, 487 households, and 262 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,132.6 inhabitants per square mile (437.3/km2). There were 622 housing units at an average density of 676.1 per square mile (261.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.3% White, 0.8% African American, 1.7% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 1.5% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.9% of the population.
Paralegal Certificate Online Programs Stafford KS
Selecting the right paralegal certificate school is a crucial 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 Certificate Online Programs. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Stafford residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Stafford KS.
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