How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Taylor Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Taylor MI and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Taylor residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. 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 essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 assist Taylor MI attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more suited 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, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Taylor MI is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Michigan to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 school (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 legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Taylor MI area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Taylor MI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good 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 some Taylor MI law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Taylor MI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing 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 great relationships with Michigan legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in Michigan or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those schools that are within the Taylor MI area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Taylor MI. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Taylor MI, 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 choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Taylor MI?
If you live near Taylor 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.
Taylor is a city in Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. Its population was 63,131 at the 2010 census. Originally known as Taylor Township, its residents voted to incorporate it as the City of Taylor in May 1968. It is the 17th most populous city in Michigan and the 543rd in the United States.
Taylor Township was named in honor of Zachary Taylor, a national military hero in the 1840s who was later elected the twelfth President of the United States in 1849. Taylor Township was organized on March 16, 1847 from 24 square miles (62 km2) that were originally part of Ecorse Township, Michigan. It is 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Detroit.
Taylor is a member of the Downriver Community. It is home to Southland Shopping Center, Wallside Windows Factory, Taylor Sportsplex, Taylor Meadows Golf Course, Lakes of Taylor Golf Course, Beaumont (Oakwood Heritage) Hospital, the Michigan State Police Metro South Post and Wayne County Community College Downriver Campus. It is the birthplace of Hungry Howie's Pizza.
Online Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies Taylor MI
Choosing the best paralegal degree school is a crucial 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 Online Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Taylor home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Taylor MI.
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