How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Smithland Kentucky
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Smithland KY and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Smithland homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job roles 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 category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Smithland KY lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- 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 job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since 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 on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Smithland KY is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Kentucky to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Smithland KY area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn 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 most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Smithland KY law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Smithland KY law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Smithland KY legal community. 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 available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing 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 Kentucky legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Kentucky or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within the Smithland KY region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Smithland KY. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Smithland KY, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs 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 expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Smithland KY?
If you live near Smithland Kentucky or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Smithland is a home rule-class city in Livingston County, Kentucky, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. The population was 301 at the 2010 census, a drop from 401 in 2000. It is the county seat of Livingston County.
As of the census of 2000, there were 401 people, 157 households, and 105 families residing in the city. The population density was 647.7 people per square mile (249.7/km²). There were 188 housing units at an average density of 303.7 per square mile (117.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.75% White, 0.25% African American, 0.75% from other races, and 0.25% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.75% of the population.
There were 157 households out of which 24.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.72.
ABA Approved Paralegal Programs Smithland KY
Choosing the best legal assistant certificate program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about ABA Approved Paralegal Programs. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Smithland residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Smithland KY.
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