How to Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Pendleton South Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Pendleton SC and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. 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. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Pendleton residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. 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.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Pendleton SC attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, 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 may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- 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 involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Pendleton SC is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in South Carolina to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Pendleton SC area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential 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 consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected 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 distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Pendleton SC law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as 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 Pendleton SC law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Pendleton SC legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in South Carolina or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within the Pendleton SC region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Pendleton SC. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Pendleton SC, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover 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 highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Pendleton SC?
If you live near Pendleton 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.
Pendleton, South Carolina
The Pendleton Historic District, consisting of the town and its immediate surroundings, was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1970. Particularly notable historic buildings on the Pendleton town square include Farmer's Hall and Hunter's Store, which is currently the headquarters of the Pendleton District Historical, Recreational and Tourism Commission. Near Pendleton are the historic plantation homes Ashtabula and Woodburn.
For centuries, the land that is now Pendleton was the territory of the Cherokee nation. After England claimed South Carolina as a colony, the Cherokee traded with the British. After the Cherokee lost the war of 1759-60 against the British, the British dominated trade in the region and began to settle more of the land with large farms.Andrew Pickens, who was a general in the Revolutionary War moved to the area and commissioned the District of Pendleton in 1790. During the first half of the 1800s, wealthy families built homes in Pendleton. These homes were built as a summer vacation spot for the low-country plantation owners. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (1789–1865) built Woodburn Plantation in 1830. Later, the Adger family, a wealthy family from Charleston, expanded the plantation to over 1,000 acres (400 ha) and enlarged the house to over 18 rooms.
Pendleton is located in northwestern Anderson County at 34°39′2″N 82°46′51″W / 34.65056°N 82.78083°W / 34.65056; -82.78083 (34.650672, -82.780736). Its northwestern edge touches the Anderson County/Pickens County line and borders the city of Clemson. U.S. Route 76 passes through the southwest part of town, bypassing the town center and leading northwest to Clemson and southeast 14 miles (23 km) to Anderson, the county seat. Greenville is 30 miles (48 km) to the northeast by U.S. Route 123.
Paralegal Education Online Pendleton SC
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal certificate program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Education Online. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Pendleton residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Pendleton SC.
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