How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Wilmington New York
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wilmington NY and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Wilmington homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly 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 essentially both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wilmington NY lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 paralegal in Wilmington NY is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Even though 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 as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Wilmington NY area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many 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 crucial aspects to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Wilmington NY law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Wilmington NY law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Wilmington NY legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with New York legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in New York or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Wilmington NY area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Wilmington NY. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Wilmington NY, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more popular and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional 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 internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 highly regarded organization, for instance 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 might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wilmington NY?
If you live near Wilmington 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.
Wilmington, New York
The town was formed in 1821 from the town of Jay. At that time, the town was called "Dansville". In 1822, the name was changed, as suggested by a settler from Vermont, to "Wilmington" due to confusion with another "Dansville" in New York. In 1848, part of the town was partitioned off to form the town of St. Armand.
"Santa's Workshop", one of the first American theme parks for children, is located near the community of North Pole. Whiteface Mountain (4,870 feet) was the site of alpine events for the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 65.3 square miles (169.0 km2), of which 65.3 square miles (169.0 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km2), or 0.36%, is water.
Legal Studies Online Wilmington NY
Choosing the right legal assistant degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Legal Studies Online. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Wilmington residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Wilmington NY.
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