How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant School near Silver Lake Kansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Silver Lake KS and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Silver Lake residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill comparable 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Silver Lake KS attorneys 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 relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay 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 complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Silver Lake KS is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Kansas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Silver Lake KS area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Silver Lake KS law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. 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 caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Silver Lake KS law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Silver Lake KS legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Kansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Kansas or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Silver Lake KS region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Silver Lake KS. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Silver Lake KS, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Silver Lake KS?
If you live near Silver Lake 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.
Silver Lake, Kansas
In 1911, a new six room brick school building replaced the original two room structure and the first high school class was organized. In 1928, that building became the elementary school. In 1952, the high school burned and a new high school was completed in 1953. In 1961, a new elementary school was completed.
Silver Lake is located at 39°6′9″N 95°51′33″W / 39.10250°N 95.85917°W / 39.10250; -95.85917 (39.102431, -95.859047). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.60 square miles (1.55 km2), of which, 0.58 square miles (1.50 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.
Silver Lake is the nearest city to Topeka to the west, along U.S. Route 24. Recently Silver Lake has had a higher proportion of its citizens commuting into Topeka. The next city west along US 24 is Rossville.
Becoming A Legal Assistant Silver Lake KS
Selecting the right paralegal certificate school is an important 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 Becoming A Legal Assistant. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Silver Lake home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Silver Lake KS.
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