How to Select the Right Paralegal Program near Three Rivers Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Three Rivers MI and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Three Rivers homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Three Rivers MI 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 practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Three Rivers MI is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Michigan to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 school (we will cover 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 paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Three Rivers MI area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Three Rivers MI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Three Rivers MI law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Three Rivers MI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Michigan legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Michigan or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. 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 might want to first look at those colleges that are within the Three Rivers MI region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Three Rivers MI. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Three Rivers MI, make certain classes are available 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, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Three Rivers MI?
If you live near Three Rivers Michigan or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Three Rivers, Michigan
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.66 square miles (14.66 km2), of which 5.40 square miles (13.99 km2) is land and 0.26 square miles (0.67 km2) is water.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $32,460, and the median income for a family was $36,272. Males had a median income of $31,849 versus $23,659 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,279. About 16.2% of families and 19.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.5% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,811 people. The 49093 Three Rivers zip code population as of 2010 stands at just shy of 20,000 people 3,048 households, and 1,862 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,446.5 inhabitants per square mile (558.5/km2). There were 3,519 housing units at an average density of 651.7 per square mile (251.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.6% White, 10.1% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 1.8% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.2% of the population.
4 Year Paralegal Degree Three Rivers MI
Choosing the best paralegal studies training program 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 4 Year Paralegal Degree. 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 comfort and privacy of your Three Rivers residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Three Rivers MI.
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