How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Wanette Oklahoma
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wanette OK and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Wanette residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Wanette OK attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep 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 very demanding. 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 action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Wanette OK is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Oklahoma to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wanette 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 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 significant factors to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive 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 obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Wanette OK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Wanette OK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Wanette OK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Oklahoma legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Oklahoma or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Wanette OK region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Wanette OK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wanette OK, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wanette OK?
If you live near Wanette 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.
Wanette is a town in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 350 at the 2010 census, a decline of 13 percent from 402 at the 2000 census. Wanette is part of the Purcell-Lexington retail trade area and is within the Greater Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area.
The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture indicates that the first settlement at this location occurred in 1868, when two settlers from Kansas built a two-story cabin. Their cabin still existed as recently as 2003. Other settlers followed. The community had several different names before a post office named Wanette opened on March 19, 1894. In 1903, the town moved one mile north to be on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway line between Newkirk and Pauls Valley
By 1907, Wanette had a population of 739. The population peaked at 783 in 1920. The local economy was based on agriculture. Discovery of the Wanette-Asher oil field aided the economy during the 1930s, but did not prevent a population decline. The town still has an agricultural base, but by the beginning of the 21st Century had become a bedroom community for people working in Moore, Norman and Oklahoma City.
Accredited Online Paralegal Certificate Programs Wanette OK
Enrolling in the right legal assistant certificate school is an important 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 Accredited Online Paralegal Certificate Programs. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Wanette home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide 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 acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wanette OK.
Other Oklahoma Locations That May Be Of Interest