How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies School near Wellington Missouri
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wellington MO and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Wellington residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wellington MO lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably 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 launch your career as a paralegal in Wellington MO is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Missouri to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wellington MO area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
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 school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Wellington MO law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Wellington MO law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Wellington MO legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Missouri legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Missouri or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Wellington MO region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received 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 supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Wellington MO. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wellington MO, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wellington MO?
If you live near Wellington Missouri or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
In November 2013, Leland Ray Kolkmeyer pled guilty, in federal court, of a fraud scheme in which he embezzled more than $1.5 million from Wellington-Napoleon Fire Protection District and Special Road District while being their former treasurer.
Wellington is located at 39°08′00″N 93°59′06″W / 39.133360°N 93.985049°W / 39.133360; -93.985049. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.13 square miles (2.93 km2), of which 1.09 square miles (2.82 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.
Wellington lies just a few miles east of Napoleon, Missouri, the two towns having been named after the commanders at the Battle of Waterloo. Approximately halfway between the two towns lies a small, unincorporated crossroads called "Waterloo".
Diploma Of Legal Studies Wellington MO
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies degree school is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Diploma Of Legal Studies. 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 comfort and privacy of your Wellington home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wellington MO.
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