How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Program near Wilton Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wilton ME and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. 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? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within driving range of their Wilton residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Wilton ME lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume 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 arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Wilton ME is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Maine to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Wilton ME area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Wilton ME law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Wilton ME law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Wilton ME legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Maine legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Maine or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Wilton ME region.
What is the Complete Expense? 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 expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Wilton ME. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Wilton ME, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wilton ME?
If you live near Wilton Maine or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The land replaced an invalidated 1727 grant by Massachusetts to veterans for service in the French and Indian Wars. The first grant (now part of Manchester, New Hampshire) was originally dubbed Harrytown after a particularly dangerous Native American, then renamed Tyngstown for Captain William Tyng, leader of the expedition of "snowshoe men" that killed him in 1703. Abraham Butterfield, a settler from Wilton, New Hampshire, paid the cost of incorporation in 1803 to have the new town named after his former residence.
Wilton is known for being the location of Maine's first cotton mill, started in 1810 by Solomon Adams. In 1876, George Henry Bass (1855–1925) founded G.H. Bass & Co. and became the best-known businessman in Wilton's history. Bass shoes (including those worn by Charles Lindbergh during his Atlantic crossing and Admiral Byrd in his expeditions to Antarctica) were made exclusively in Wilton for more than a century until 1998. By then the Bass family had sold out, and in 1998 Bass' parent company, Phillips-Van Heusen, moved operations overseas.
John Russell Bass (b. 1878), son of G. H. Bass, was treasurer for the firm and served as Maine delegate to the Republican national convention in 1920, 1944 and 1952. The company built much of its success on the Bass penny weejun, introduced in 1936 and said to be based on Norwegian fisherman's shoes. The style was an instant hit, and became a staple on college campuses across the nation. The shoe was later renamed the Leavitt penny weejun; it is no longer made in Wilton.
Paralegal Online School Wilton ME
Choosing the best legal assistant degree school is a crucial 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 Online School. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wilton residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wilton ME.
Other Maine Locations That May Be Of Interest