How to Select the Right Legal Assistant School near Wayne Illinois
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wayne IL and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Wayne homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, 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 Wayne IL attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Wayne IL is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Illinois to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Wayne IL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Wayne IL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible 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 special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Wayne IL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Wayne IL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Illinois legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Illinois or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the 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 an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within the Wayne IL region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember 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 be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Wayne IL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Wayne IL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wayne IL?
If you live near Wayne Illinois or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Wayne is a village in DuPage and Kane counties, Illinois, United States. The eastern portion, in DuPage County, is in Wayne Township, while the western portion, in Kane County, is in St. Charles Township. The population was 2,431 at the 2010 census. and 2,490 as a 2012-2016 five year population estimate with over 70% of families reporting income over $100,000 in census figures.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Wayne was a prominent center of horse breeding and farming research. The community was known for breeding French Percheron horses, a draught horse similar to a Clydesdale.
Wayne was originally named Wayne Station and was named after Anthony Wayne. Wayne was incorporated in 1958. Previously, the community was administered as a private association called the "Wayne Community Association" with voluntary contributions funding village services including police.
Accredited Paralegal Certificate Online Wayne IL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies degree program is a crucial 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 Accredited Paralegal Certificate Online. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Wayne residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wayne IL.
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