How to Pick the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Piedmont South Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Piedmont SC and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Piedmont homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable 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 belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Piedmont SC attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite 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 paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Piedmont SC is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in South Carolina to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Piedmont SC area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Piedmont SC law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Piedmont SC law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Piedmont SC legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in South Carolina or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire 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 may wish to initially consider those schools that are within the Piedmont SC region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Piedmont SC. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Piedmont SC, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and may be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Piedmont SC?
If you live near Piedmont South Carolina or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Piedmont, South Carolina
Native Americans and early settlers of Piedmont called the area "Big Shoals of the Saluda" after the Saluda River. The Native Americans used the shoals as a crossing. David Garrison established a grist mill around 1850 upon the shoals changing the name of the area to Garrison Shoals. Henry Pinckney Hammett bought this property for his cotton mill that used water power of the shoals. The name of the area changed again to Piedmont, "Foot of the Mountains" and became a mill town. The American Civil War disrupted Hammett's project until 1876 when his plant began operations. Piedmont was added to Hammett's charter for Piedmont Manufacturing Company and a railroad station. Water power from the Saluda River was also used to produce electricity to run the machinery from the 1880s to the 1920s. The machinery of the Piedmont Manufacturing Company was from Saco Lowell and Whitin Machine Works that helped finance Hammett's company. In 1946 the mills were sold to J.P. Stevens and Company where it then was updated with modern features. Manufacturing continued until 1977 and in 1983 most of Piedmont Manufacturing Company burned down.
Piedmont is located in northern Anderson County and southwestern Greenville County at 34°42′15″N 82°27′41″W / 34.70417°N 82.46139°W / 34.70417; -82.46139 (34.704140, -82.461427). It is 12 miles (19 km) south of the center of Greenville. Exit 35 on Interstate 85 is 2 miles (3 km) to the west of the center of Piedmont. South Carolina state road 86 cuts through the small town also, connecting with Interstate 85 at Exit 35. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 8.8 square miles (22.7 km2), of which 8.6 square miles (22.3 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.93%, is water. The Saluda River flows southwards over a dam through the center of town.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,684 people, 1,829 households, and 1,349 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 545.6 people per square mile (210.8/km²). There were 1,992 housing units at an average density of 232.0 per square mile (89.6/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 92.08% White, 5.85% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.11% from other races, and 1.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.20% of the population.
Paralegal Bachelors Degree Piedmont SC
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies certificate school 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 Paralegal Bachelors Degree. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Piedmont residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Piedmont SC.
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