How to Select the Right Legal Assistant School near Wellsburg West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wellsburg WV and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Wellsburg residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Wellsburg WV lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Wellsburg WV is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in West Virginia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Wellsburg WV area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors 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 need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable 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 targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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 also. Numerous Wellsburg WV law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Wellsburg WV law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Wellsburg WV legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in West Virginia or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Wellsburg WV region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Wellsburg WV. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wellsburg WV, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive 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 organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wellsburg WV?
If you live near Wellsburg West 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.
Wellsburg, West Virginia
Wellsburg is a city in and the county seat of Brooke County, West Virginia, United States. It is part of the Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area. The 2010 census recorded a population of 2,805. The diverse economy includes one paper mill, a glass gift outlet, several telemarketing facilities, and a factory that does metal fabrication plus plastics molding.
In 1772, the Cox brothers, Friend, Israel, and Jonathan, made tomahawk rights claims totaling 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) in the area now including Wellsburg. In March 1788, Charles Prather purchased 481 acres (1.95 km2) from the Cox heirs for $3,000. In 1791, Prather petitioned Ohio County to incorporate the town of Charlestown, Virginia, naming it after himself. The original name continued until 1816, when it was changed to Wellsburg, to avoid confusion with Charles Town, Jefferson County. The new name was in honor of Charles Wells (1745-1815), Charles Prather's son-in-law, builder of the first large flour warehouse in the east. Late in 1890, nearby Midway and Lazearville were annexed to Wellsburg.
Wellsburg was the home of Patrick Gass, the last surviving member of the Lewis and Clark expedition and author of a memoir of the famous journey. Here also was the home of Joseph Doddridge, author of Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars. In 1832, the original Grimes Golden apple tree was found just east of Wellsburg. The first glass factory in Western Virginia was built at Wellsburg in 1813.
Online Masters Degree In Legal Studies Wellsburg WV
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies certificate program 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 Online Masters Degree In Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wellsburg home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wellsburg WV.
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