How to Select the Right Paralegal Training Program near Wentzville Missouri
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wentzville MO and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive 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 academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Wentzville residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Wentzville MO attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting 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 role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Wentzville MO is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Most 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 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Missouri to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Wentzville MO area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education 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 Wentzville MO law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Wentzville MO law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Wentzville MO legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing 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 Missouri legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Missouri or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those schools that are within the Wentzville MO region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. 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 as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Wentzville MO. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Wentzville MO, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wentzville MO?
If you live near Wentzville 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.
Wentzville is a suburb of St. Louis that is located in western St. Charles County, Missouri, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 29,070. Population estimates in 2017 have placed the city's population at 39,414, making it the 16th largest city in Missouri. Wentzville was the fastest growing city in Missouri between 2000 and 2010 by percentage increased. As the site of the county fairgrounds, Wentzville hosts the St. Lazlo Wentz Festival and the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire.
Wentzville was laid out in 1855. The community has the name of the chief engineer of the Northern Missouri Railroad Erasmus Livingston Wentz. A post office called Wentzville has been in operation since 1859.
Wentzville is the location of the first Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the United States. It began as a tree of lights to help raise money in 1967 to send gifts to active servicemen, but later evolved by 1984 to a carved eagle atop a pillar of granite. It has become a regular stop in the national "Run for the Wall" trip for veterans.
Universities That Offer Paralegal Degrees Wentzville MO
Enrolling in the best legal assistant certificate 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 Universities That Offer Paralegal Degrees. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wentzville home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Wentzville MO.
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