How to Select the Right Paralegal Program near Stanford Kentucky
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Stanford KY and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Stanford residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Stanford KY lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready 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 complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited 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 number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training 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 educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Stanford KY is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Kentucky to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Stanford KY area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. 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 previously covered, there are other important factors to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should 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 pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Stanford KY law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 Stanford KY law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Stanford KY legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Kentucky legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Kentucky or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within the Stanford KY area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Stanford KY. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Stanford KY, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Stanford KY?
If you live near Stanford Kentucky or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Stanford is a home rule-class city in Lincoln County, Kentucky, United States. It is one of the oldest settlements in Kentucky, having been founded in 1775. Its population was 3,487 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Lincoln County. Stanford is part of the Danville Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Stanford was founded in 1775 by Benjamin Logan as St. Asaph; the early settlement was also known simply as Logan's Fort. The site of the fort is about one mile west of the courthouse at the center of town. The name "Fort Logan" is still used to this day by local businesses, including the Fort Logan Hospital and Standing Fort Collectibles. The main street was built on what was originally a buffalo trail.
The name Stanford may have come from "Standing Fort", a name given to Fort Logan because it survived multiple attacks by British-led Native Americans during the American Revolution. Alternately, it may have been named for Stamford, England. Although it was one of the smaller pioneer forts, it never fell to an attack.
Accredited Online Paralegal Certificate Programs Stanford KY
Enrolling in the right paralegal certificate school is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Accredited Online Paralegal Certificate Programs. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Stanford home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection 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, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Stanford KY.
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