How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies School near Zionsville Indiana
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Zionsville IN and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their Zionsville homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review 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 take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Zionsville IN attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on 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 stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education 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 opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Zionsville IN is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Indiana to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase 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 program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Zionsville IN area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must 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 the majority of prospective 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, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized organization 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Zionsville IN law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Zionsville IN law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Zionsville IN legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out 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 large networks and great relationships with Indiana legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Indiana or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those schools that are within the Zionsville IN region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Zionsville IN. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Zionsville IN, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Zionsville IN?
If you live near Zionsville Indiana or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Zionsville is a suburban town located in the extreme southeast area of Boone County, Indiana, United States, northwest of Indianapolis. The population was 14,160 at the 2010 census, and grew to 26,784 in the Census 2016 estimates.
Zionsville promotes itself as a tourist attraction, centered on its village-styled downtown area. This area consists primarily of Main Street, paved entirely in brick, which is lined with small retail stores and restaurants.
Zionsville is located at 39°57′11″N 86°16′10″W / 39.95306°N 86.26944°W / 39.95306; -86.26944 (39.953092, -86.269462), approximately 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Downtown Indianapolis. According to the 2010 census, Zionsville has a total area of 10.298 square miles (26.67 km2), of which 10.26 square miles (26.57 km2) (or 99.63%) is land and 0.038 square miles (0.10 km2) (or 0.37%) is water.
Paralegal Bachelors Degree Zionsville IN
Choosing the ideal legal assistant degree program is a vital first step to guarantee 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 Bachelors Degree. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Zionsville home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Zionsville IN.
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