How to Find the Right Paralegal School near Whitefield Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Whitefield ME and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Whitefield residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Whitefield ME attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Whitefield ME is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Maine to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Whitefield ME area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Whitefield ME law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Whitefield ME law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, 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 firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Whitefield ME legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting 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. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Maine legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Maine or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Whitefield ME region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Whitefield ME. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Whitefield ME, make sure classes are offered 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, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Whitefield ME?
If you live near Whitefield Maine or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Whitefield is a town in Lincoln County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,300 at the 2010 census. Whitefield is named for the celebrated British evangelist George Whitefield, who inspired the colonists before the town was settled in 1770, mainly by Irish Catholics. They remembered him when incorporation came in 1809. Whitefield is included in the Augusta, Maine micropolitan New England City and Town Area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 47.51 square miles (123.05 km2), of which, 46.82 square miles (121.26 km2) of it is land and 0.69 square miles (1.79 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 2,300 people, 917 households, and 643 families residing in the town. The population density was 49.1 inhabitants per square mile (19.0/km2). There were 1,055 housing units at an average density of 22.5 per square mile (8.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.8% White, 0.3% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.3% Asian, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.
Online Legal Studies Whitefield ME
Enrolling in the best paralegal studies certificate school is a vital 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 Online Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Whitefield home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, 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 influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Whitefield ME.
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