How to Choose the Right Paralegal Program near Woodside New York
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Woodside NY and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Woodside homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Woodside NY attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties 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 work, but some of their routine tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Woodside NY is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Many 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. 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 proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal 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 as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Woodside NY area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Woodside NY law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Woodside NY law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Woodside NY legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with New York legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in New York or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Woodside NY region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Woodside NY. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Woodside NY, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure 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 reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Woodside NY?
If you live near Woodside 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.
Woodside is a residential and commercial neighborhood in the western portion of the borough of Queens in New York City. It is bordered on the south by Maspeth, on the north by Astoria, on the west by Sunnyside, and on the east by Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. Some areas are widely residential and very quiet, while other parts, especially the ones around Roosevelt Avenue, are busier. The neighborhood is located in Queens Community Board 1 and Queens Community Board 2.
In the 19th century the area was part of the Town of Newtown (now Elmhurst). The adjacent area of Winfield was largely incorporated into the post office serving Woodside and as a consequence Winfield lost much of its identity distinct from Woodside. However, with large-scale residential development in the 1860s, Woodside became the largest Irish American community in Queens, being approximately 80% Irish by the 1930s and maintaining a strong Irish culture today. In the early 1990s, many Asian American families moved into the area, with the population being 30% Asian American. South Asians and Latinos have also moved to Woodside in recent years.
Reflecting its longtime diverse foods and drink, the neighborhood is filled with many cultural restaurants and pubs. It is also home to some of the city's most popular Thai, Filipino, and South American eateries.
Paralegal Certificates Woodside NY
Enrolling in the ideal 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 Certificates. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Woodside residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Woodside NY.
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