How to Choose the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Summerfield Kansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Summerfield KS and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for schools within driving range of their Summerfield residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Summerfield KS lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Summerfield KS is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Kansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Summerfield KS area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Summerfield KS law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Summerfield KS law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Summerfield KS legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Kansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Kansas or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Summerfield KS area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Summerfield KS. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Summerfield KS, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, 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 might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Summerfield KS?
If you live near Summerfield 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.
Summerfield is located at 39°59′47″N 96°20′57″W / 39.99639°N 96.34917°W / 39.99639; -96.34917 (39.996439, -96.349249). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.34 square miles (0.88 km2), all of it land.
As of the census of 2010, there were 156 people, 79 households, and 41 families residing in the city. The population density was 458.8 inhabitants per square mile (177.1/km2). There were 107 housing units at an average density of 314.7 per square mile (121.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.1% White, 0.6% African American, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.3% of the population.
There were 79 households of which 20.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 48.1% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.97 and the average family size was 2.68.
Bachelor In Legal Studies Summerfield KS
Selecting the ideal legal assistant degree program is an essential 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 Bachelor In Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Summerfield residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Summerfield KS.
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