How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Whiteford Maryland
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Whiteford MD and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of 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 numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Whiteford residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Whiteford MD attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. 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 practice may help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved 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 limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because 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 on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Whiteford MD is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Maryland to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Whiteford MD area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly 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 searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to research also, 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 considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Whiteford MD law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Whiteford MD law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Whiteford MD legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Maryland legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Maryland or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Whiteford MD area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Whiteford MD. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Whiteford MD, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Whiteford MD?
If you live near Whiteford Maryland or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The town, a part of the Whiteford-Cardiff Historic District, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Until 1978, this community was served by the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad at milepost 42.4. Also on the National Register are the Broad Creek Soapstone Quarries and Slate Ridge School.
Online Paralegal Degrees Whiteford MD
Choosing the best legal assistant training school is a crucial 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 Online Paralegal Degrees. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Whiteford home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Whiteford MD.
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Best Paralegal Schools in Maryland
Well-qualified paralegals in Maryland can find desirable and lucrative employment. About 7,060 paralegals are employed in Maryland, with the majority working in the Baltimore and Alexandria metro areas. 1 Paralegals and legal assistants are expected to be in demand in Maryland in the coming years, and those who are interested in this career should consider completing a paralegal degree program.
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Additional Paralegal Educational Programs Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, Maryland Degree Offered: Associate of Applied Science Chesapeake College Wye Mills, Maryland Degrees Offered: Associate of Applied Science, certificate Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore, Maryland Degree ...
How to Become a Paralegal in Maryland - MD | Paralegal ...
Currently the three professional organizations offer four national exams from which to select: The PACE offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) The PCC also offered by National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) The CLA/CP offered by the National Association of ...
Steps on How to Become a Paralegal in Maryland ...
University of Maryland, University College - Online program – Degrees available include: Bachelor of Science – Legal Studies Stevenson University - ABA approved - Stevenson and Owings Mills, MD – Degrees available include: Bachelor of Science – Paralegal Studies Prince George’s Community College – ...
12 Accredited Paralegal Schools in Maryland
Paralegal Schools In Maryland Maryland has 12 accredited paralegal schools where paralegal faculty who teach paralegal classes can find employment. The trends in Maryland's paralegal academic community can be evaluated by looking at the statistics and graphs below. Academia in paralegal includes paralegal training at the following levels:
Online Paralegal Certificate Programs in Maryland
The state of Maryland is home to multiple schools with online paralegal certificate programs. They focus on both basic and advanced topics in paralegal studies and students have the option to study...