How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Program near Whitehouse Station New Jersey
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Whitehouse Station NJ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably 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 at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Whitehouse Station homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Whitehouse Station NJ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually 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 code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 begin your career as a legal assistant in Whitehouse Station NJ is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in New Jersey to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 program (we will address the benefits 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.
What to Ask Paralegal 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 evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Whitehouse Station NJ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Whitehouse Station NJ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Whitehouse Station NJ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Whitehouse Station NJ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with New Jersey legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in New Jersey or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Whitehouse Station NJ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Whitehouse Station NJ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Whitehouse Station NJ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Whitehouse Station NJ?
If you live near Whitehouse Station New Jersey or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
Whitehouse Station is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located within Readington Township, in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, United States. At the 2010 United States Census, the CDP's population was 2,089. Whitehouse Station takes its name from Whitehouse and Abraham Van Horne's 18th century tavern.
The area, which is now served only by New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line, used to be a railroad junction, serving as the endpoint of the ill-fated Rockaway Valley Railroad, which ceased operation in 1913. Whitehouse Station was home to the global headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Merck, which was housed in the modernist Merck Headquarters Building. Merck is in the process of moving out of the campus, shifting its base of operations to Kenilworth.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP had a total area of 1.346 square miles (3.487 km2), including 1.303 square miles (3.376 km2) of land and 0.043 square miles (0.111 km2) of water (3.20%).
Paralegal Certificate Program Online Whitehouse Station NJ
Choosing the right paralegal studies degree school is a crucial 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 Paralegal Certificate Program Online. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Whitehouse Station residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Whitehouse Station NJ.
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