How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies School near Yarmouth Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Yarmouth ME and begin your journey that will result in 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 need 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 educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Yarmouth residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill 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 separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Yarmouth ME lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically 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 quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Yarmouth ME is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Maine to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Yarmouth ME area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add 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 already covered, there are other crucial issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Yarmouth ME law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Yarmouth ME law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program 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 a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Yarmouth ME legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Maine legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Maine or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those colleges that are within the Yarmouth ME area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Yarmouth ME. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Yarmouth ME, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online 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 caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Yarmouth ME?
If you live near Yarmouth 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.
Yarmouth is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, located twelve miles north of the state's largest city, Portland. The town was settled in 1636 and incorporated in 1849. Its population was 8,349 in the 2010 census. As of 2015's estimation, this is about 0.6% of Maine's total population.
The town's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its location on the banks of the Royal River, which empties into Casco Bay less than a mile away, means it is a prime location as a harbor. Ships were built in the harbor mainly between 1818 and the 1870s, at which point demand declined dramatically. Meanwhile, the Royal River's four waterfalls within Yarmouth, whose Main Street sits about 80 feet above sea level, resulted in the foundation of almost sixty mills between 1674 and 1931.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.94 square miles (59.41 km2), of which, 13.35 square miles (34.58 km2) (58%) is land and 9.59 square miles (24.84 km2) (42%) is water.
How To Get A Paralegal Certificate Online Yarmouth ME
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree 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 How To Get A Paralegal Certificate Online. But as we have discussed 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 Yarmouth residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Yarmouth ME.
Other Maine Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 6