How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Wayzata Minnesota
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wayzata MN and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Wayzata homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wayzata MN lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves 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 a few of their day-to-day tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative functions 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, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Wayzata MN is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Minnesota to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wayzata MN area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important issues to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wayzata MN law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose 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 a few Wayzata MN law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if 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 practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Wayzata MN legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Minnesota legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Minnesota or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Wayzata MN region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Wayzata MN. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Wayzata MN, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses 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 greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wayzata MN?
If you live near Wayzata Minnesota or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Wayzata (/waɪˈzɛtə/ wy-ZET-ə) is a city in Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States. It is in the western part of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro area. The name Wayzata is derived from a Lakota Sioux phrase meaning "North Shore". Located on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, the city is a popular tourist destination.
As of the 2010 census, the population was 3,688. Wayzata has a growing economy, and Wayzata High School, located to the north in Plymouth, has been ranked by Newsweek on its list of the 1000 top public high schools in America.
The Mdewakanton Dakota, a sub-tribe of the Dakota nation, inhabited the area around Lake Minnetonka beginning around 1700 CE. They treasured the "Big Water" as an endowed hunting and fishing ground and protected the land from the rival Chippewa tribe (also referred to as the Ojibwe). While these natives had been living in the region for hundreds of years prior, the land was claimed by Spain and later France, who sold it to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. For many years, the nearest Euro-American settlement was Fort Saint Anthony (later renamed Fort Snelling). It wasn't until the 1851 signing of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux that the lands west of the Mississippi River were opened for land claims to be filed. Tension between the settlers and the natives in the area rose in the 1850s and climaxed during the Dakota War of 1862. After the war, most Dakotas (including the Mdewakanton) were forced to flee the area. Although the Dakota no longer live in the area, their legacy lives on in the name of the city. Waziya was their god of the North, a giant who blew the cold winds from his mouth. With the suffix ta added, the name means "North Shore." The name Wayzata is a Euro-American translation of this phrase.
Paralegal Training Wayzata MN
Selecting the best paralegal studies degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Training. 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 Wayzata home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Wayzata MN.
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