How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant School near Wallingford Connecticut
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wallingford CT and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive 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 increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Wallingford residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job roles and functions, just 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 help Wallingford CT attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting 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 abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very 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 restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because 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 otherwise.
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. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Wallingford CT is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Connecticut to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Wallingford CT area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Wallingford CT law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick 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 contact several Wallingford CT 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 rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Wallingford CT legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Connecticut legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Connecticut or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. 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 might need to first look at those schools that are within the Wallingford CT region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Wallingford CT. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Wallingford CT, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more available and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wallingford CT?
If you live near Wallingford Connecticut or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Wallingford is a town in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 45,135 at the 2010 census. The urban center of the town is the Wallingford Center census-designated place, with a population of 18,209 at the 2010 census. The community was named after Wallingford, in England.
The Connecticut General Assembly created the town on October 10, 1667. This original plot of land near the Quinnipiac River is now considered Main Street. Starting on May 12, 1670 there were 126 people who lived in temporary housing, and five years later in 1675 there were 40 permanent homes.
Wallingford has diversified its commercial and industrial base over the past decade attracting high-technology industries as compared to traditional heavy manufacturing. It is the home of a large variety of industries and major corporations spanning the spectrum of the medical, health care, service, high-tech specialty metal manufacturing and research development. The development of the Barnes Industrial Park, Casimir Pulaski Industrial Park, Wharton Brook Industrial Park, and the South Turnpike Road area have greatly contributed to this transition. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, the town's largest taxpayer, has established a research and development facility in Wallingford's MedWay Industrial Park. An Interchange Zone which permits very restrictive commercial development of office parks, research and development centers and hotels has been created at the intersection of Interstate 91 and Route 68.
Paralegal Online Degree Wallingford CT
Enrolling in the right paralegal studies degree school is an essential 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 Online Degree. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wallingford home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Wallingford CT.
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