How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Windsor New York
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Windsor NY and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Windsor homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Windsor NY lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks can involve:
- Investigating 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
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep 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 complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Windsor NY is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in New York to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Windsor NY area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective 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 crucial aspects to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Windsor NY law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Windsor NY law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Windsor NY legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. 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 a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with New York legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in New York or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Windsor NY region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Windsor NY. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Windsor NY, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address 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 program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Windsor NY?
If you live near Windsor New York or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
New Windsor, New York
New Windsor is a town in Orange County, New York, United States. The Town of New Windsor is in the eastern part of the county, bordering the Town of Newburgh and the City of Newburgh. The population was estimated at 25,244 in 2010 by the US Census.
The region was originally inhabited by the Munsee people, part of the Lenape confederation. The first European settlers were colonists from Scotland who arrived in 1685. The Town of New Windsor was created in 1763.
Settlement rights in the area that now encompasses the town were obtained from the Munsee by Governor Thomas Dongan, who encouraged the settlement of a party of Scottish colonists led by David Toshack, the Laird of Monzievaird, and his brother-in-law Major Patrick McGregorie. They arrived in 1685 and settled in the area overlooking the Hudson River near Moodna Creek. McGregorie is said to have built a cabin north of the creek on Conwanham's Hill at Plum Point, while Toshack set up a trading post south of the creek on Sloop Hill. In June 1685, Governor Dongan appointed McGregorie Muster-Master of Militia for the City and Province of New York.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Paralegal Certificate Windsor NY
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential 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 How Long Does It Take To Get A Paralegal Certificate. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Windsor home. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school 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 wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Windsor NY.
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