How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program near Waverly Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Waverly VA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best 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 more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Waverly residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, 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 classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Waverly VA lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases 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. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Waverly VA is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Virginia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Waverly VA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation 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 effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Waverly VA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 Waverly VA law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Waverly VA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Virginia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Virginia or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those schools that are within the Waverly VA region.
How Much is the Total 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 cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Waverly VA. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Waverly VA, make sure classes are available 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. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and can be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Waverly VA?
If you live near Waverly Virginia or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Popular legend has it that William Mahone (1826–1895), builder of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad (now Norfolk Southern), and his cultured wife, Otelia Butler Mahone (1837–1911), traveled along the newly completed Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad naming stations. Otelia was reading Ivanhoe, a book written by Sir Walter Scott. From his historical Scottish novels, Otelia chose the place names of Waverly, as well as Windsor and Wakefield. She tapped the Scottish Clan "McIvor" for the name of Ivor, a small town in neighboring Southampton County. When they could not agree, it is said that they invented a new name in honor of their dispute, which is how the tiny community of Disputanta a few miles west of Waverly was named. The N&P railroad was completed in 1858.
William Mahone became a Major General in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, and later, a Senator in the United States Congress. A large portion of U.S. Route 460 between Petersburg and Suffolk is named in his honor.
Waverly is the second largest of the towns Gen. Mahone founded. Waverly has supplied the most state senators and delegate members to the Virginia General Assembly of any Virginia town under 3,000 people. They are Junius Edgar West, Delegate (1910–1912) and Senator (1912–1918); Thomas H. Howerton, Delegate (1912–1914); William O. Rogers, Senator (1924–1934); Garland "Peck" Gray, Senator (1942–1945 and 1948–1971); and Elmon T. Gray, Senator (1971–1992).
Master In Legal Studies Waverly VA
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies degree 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 Master In Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Waverly home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Waverly VA.
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