How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Wewoka Oklahoma
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wewoka OK and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive 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 academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Wewoka residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Wewoka OK attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Wewoka OK is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Oklahoma to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Wewoka OK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training 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 school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Wewoka OK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Wewoka OK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Wewoka OK legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Oklahoma legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Oklahoma or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within the Wewoka OK area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, 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 also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Wewoka OK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Wewoka OK, make sure classes are offered 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, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and may be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wewoka OK?
If you live near Wewoka Oklahoma or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Wewoka's history begins with Freedman John Horse, who was also known as Gopher John. In the spring of 1849, Horse and a group of Black Seminoles founded a settlement near modern-day Wewoka. Seeking safety and autonomy from the Creek Nation, they established a community located at the falls of a small stream, lying in the fertile lands between the North and South Canadian Rivers. The steady rush of water over the falls gave rise to the name We-Wo-Ka – meaning "Barking Water" in the Mvskoke (Seminole) language. Other historians claim he named the settlement Wewokea after Osceola's second wife who was of both Seminole and African ancestry.
In autumn of 1849, Horse and Seminole chief Wild Cat led Seminole families into Mexico to avoid the attempts of slavers to raid families and capture people of African descent. The Mexican government offered Wild Cat, Horse and other Seminoles land in Mexico if they could rid the land of renegades who were terrorizing Mexican citizens. Wild Cat was the next hereditary chief of the Seminole Nation but the government appointed its first chief John Jumper instead. The descendants of Wildcat and his band were split for a time between Wewoka, Texas, and Mexico until 1918.
The city was founded in 1866 when Elijah J. Brown, an employee of the federal government led Seminole refugees from Leroy, Kansas to Indian Territory. During the American Civil War, the Seminole Nation had sided with the Confederacy, although many tribe members fled to the relative safety of Kansas, where they remained for the duration of the war. In 1866, after the Confederacy surrendered, the United States government required the Seminole Nation to sign a new treaty, which required them to emancipate their slaves, give freedmen who wanted to stay in the territory full rights as citizens, including voting in the tribe. Brown led the refugees back to Wewoka, here he built himself a house and established a trading post. Freedmen settled in Wewoka along with the Seminole and Elijah Brown was the only legal white settler in the town. The trading post had several subsequent proprietors before it was bought by two Seminole brothers, John Frippo Brown and A. J. Brown, and became the Wewoka Trading Company in 1891.[a] Rev. James Ross Ramsey, a Presbyterian missionary, founded the Ramsey Mission (considered the first school in present Seminole County) in 1866. A post office was established on May 13, 1867 with E. J. Brown as first postmaster. The Seminole Nation made Wewoka their capital city and Seminole Governor John Brown had a log house erected at Wewoka as the Seminole capitol in 1877.[b][c]
Online Paralegal Courses Wewoka OK
Choosing the best paralegal certificate school is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Online Paralegal Courses. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wewoka residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Wewoka OK.
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