How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Training Program near Harrisville Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Harrisville RI and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Harrisville residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Harrisville RI lawyers 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 relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist 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 adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
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. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Harrisville RI is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Rhode Island to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Harrisville RI area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 already discussed, there are other important issues to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education 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 Harrisville RI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Harrisville RI law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Harrisville RI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Rhode Island or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within the Harrisville RI area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, 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 aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Harrisville RI. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Harrisville RI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Harrisville RI?
If you live near Harrisville Rhode Island or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Harrisville, Rhode Island
Harrisville is a census-designated place (CDP) and village in the town of Burrillville in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 1,605 at the 2010 census. Much of the community composes a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The village was named after nineteenth century manufacturer, Andrew Harris. Previously, the village was named Rhodesville, after Captain William Rhodes, an eighteenth century privateer.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,561 people, 655 households, and 417 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 744.1/km² (1,923.5/mi²). There were 677 housing units at an average density of 322.7/km² (834.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 98.72% White, 0.13% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.51% from other races, and 0.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.19% of the population.
There were 655 households out of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.04.
Paralegal Training Harrisville RI
Choosing the best paralegal studies degree school is an important 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 Paralegal Training. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Harrisville home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Harrisville RI.
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