How to Pick the Right Paralegal School near Sumner Washington
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Sumner WA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Sumner residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational 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 comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Sumner WA lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Sumner WA is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Washington to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Sumner WA area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective 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 significant issues to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Sumner WA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Sumner WA law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, 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 practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Sumner WA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Washington legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Washington or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Sumner WA area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length 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 also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Sumner WA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Sumner WA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing 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 structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Sumner WA?
If you live near Sumner Washington or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Sumner is a city in northern Pierce County, Washington, United States. The population was 9,451 at the 2010 census. Nearby cities include Puyallup to the west, Auburn to the north, and Bonney Lake to the east.
Sumner was founded in 1853 as Stuck Junction and platted in 1883 by George H. Ryan, in anticipation of a stop on the Northern Pacific Railway. The town was named "Franklin" until 1891, when the Post Office Department requested that the name be changed to avoid confusion with similarly named towns. The name of abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner was chosen for the town after a lottery.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.62 square miles (19.74 km2), of which, 7.51 square miles (19.45 km2) is land and 0.11 square miles (0.28 km2) is water.
Legal Administrative Assistant Online Classes Sumner WA
Selecting the right legal assistant certificate school 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 Legal Administrative Assistant Online Classes. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Sumner residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Sumner WA.
Other Washington Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 124