How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Walpole Massachusetts
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Walpole MA and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Walpole homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Walpole MA attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Walpole MA is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many 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. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Massachusetts to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies in the profession 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Walpole MA area, in addition to 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 degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Walpole MA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs 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 make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick 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 call a few Walpole MA law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Walpole MA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Massachusetts legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Massachusetts or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build 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 want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those schools that are within the Walpole MA region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Walpole MA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Walpole MA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, 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 Walpole MA?
If you live near Walpole Massachusetts or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Walpole is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States and also encompasses the entirely distinct entity of Walpole (CDP), with its much smaller area of 2.9 square miles and smaller population of 5,198 at the 2010 census. Walpole Town, as the Census refers to the actual town, is located about 13 miles (21 km) south of Downtown Boston and 23.5 miles (37.8 km) north of Providence, Rhode Island. The population was 24,070 at the 2010 census. Walpole was first settled in 1659 and was considered a part of Dedham until officially incorporated in 1724. The town was named after Sir Robert Walpole, de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.
It started out as a territory that was claimed by the Neponset Native American tribe. The Neponset tribe officially claimed the area that is now Walpole, and some of its surrounding territory in 1635. The town of Dedham was not included in this claim, so they began to negotiate with the Neponset tribe to gain land. In 1636, a deal was made between the town of Dedham and the Neponsets to grant Dedham lands that now comprise the towns of Walpole, Norwood, Westwood, Medfield, Norfolk and Dover as well as Dedham. The land given to Dedham in this deal currently includes parts of 16 different towns.
After the territory was bought from Dedham, the saw mill industry began to rise in the area. The first saw mill in Walpole was built near what is now School Meadow Brook and the Neponset River. It was located in the area that is now the Walpole Town Forest. The mill was built and later owned by Joshua Fisher and Major Eleazer Lusher, two wealthy men of Dedham.
Accredited Online Paralegal Programs Walpole MA
Selecting the right legal assistant certificate program is a crucial 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 Accredited Online Paralegal Programs. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Walpole residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Walpole MA.
Other Massachusetts Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 239