How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies School near Smith Center Kansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Smith Center KS and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive 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 more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Smith Center residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every 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 offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Smith Center KS lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Smith Center KS is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Kansas to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree 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 paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Smith Center KS area, in addition to 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 degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized organization 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Smith Center KS law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have 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 reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Smith Center KS law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Smith Center KS legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially 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 secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing 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 Kansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Kansas or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the area 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 may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Smith Center KS area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Smith Center KS. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Smith Center KS, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Smith Center KS?
If you live near Smith Center Kansas or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Smith Center, Kansas
Smith Center was founded in 1871. The first post office in Smith Center was established in January 1873. Like Smith County, Smith Center was named for Maj. J. Nelson Smith of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry, a pre-war native of Elwood, Kansas, who died leading his regiment on October 21, 1864 at the Battle of the Little Blue River. 
Smith Center is located at 39°46′43″N 98°47′7″W / 39.77861°N 98.78528°W / 39.77861; -98.78528 (39.778550, -98.785141). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.24 square miles (3.21 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,665 people, 779 households, and 470 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,342.7 inhabitants per square mile (518.4/km2). There were 928 housing units at an average density of 748.4 per square mile (289.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.7% White, 0.1% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 0.4% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.0% of the population.
Online Paralegal Programs Accredited Smith Center KS
Choosing the right paralegal studies training 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 Online Paralegal Programs Accredited. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Smith Center residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Smith Center KS.
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