How to Choose the Right Paralegal Training Program near Wingdale New York
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wingdale NY and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Wingdale homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Wingdale NY lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready 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 allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Wingdale NY is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may 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 an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New York to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Wingdale NY area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors 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 effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wingdale NY law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 contact a few Wingdale NY law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Wingdale NY legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with New York legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in New York or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Wingdale NY area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, 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 might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Wingdale NY. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wingdale NY, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater 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 school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wingdale NY?
If you live near Wingdale New York or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Harlem Valley–Wingdale station
The Harlem Valley–Wingdale station (formerly State Hospital station) on the Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line, located in Wingdale, New York. It is adjacent to the Harlem Valley State Hospital. Trains leave for New York City every two hours, and about every 30 minutes during rush hour. It is 69 miles (111 km) from Grand Central Terminal and travel time to Grand Central is approximately one hour, 55 minutes.
The station was formerly known as "State Hospital" and was a flag stop between the 1930s and 1960s. It was built to serve the Harlem Valley State Hospital, and was expanded from a simple wooden platform to a shelter with a wood-burning stove. The Wingdale station (originally known as "Wing's station," then "South Dover station") was approximately one half mile north in the hamlet on Dutchess CR 21 (Pleasant Ridge Road). It was located near such hotels as the 1806-built Jackson Wing Inn, and the 1858-built Duell Hotel, the latter of which still stands today. In the post-World War II era, the station was reduced from a station house, to a shelter along the platform. As with most of the Harlem Line, the merger of New York Central with Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968 transformed the two stations into Penn Central Railroad stations. Penn Central's continuous financial despair throughout the 1970s forced them to turn over their commuter service to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and abandon service north of Dover Plains. Penn Central continued to provide coal service to the hospital until it was taken over by Conrail, which continued coal service well into the 1990s. The stations were consolidated in 1977 with the State Hospital station being renamed Harlem Valley-Wingdale and the Wingdale stop being discontinued, thus transforming the station into the penultimate station on the Harlem Line, until Metro-North acquired the line in 1983, and re-extended it to Wassaic in 2000.
Paralegal Studies Certificate Wingdale NY
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 Studies Certificate. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Wingdale residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wingdale NY.
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