How to Choose the Right Legal Assistant School near Woodburn Oregon
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Woodburn OR and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Woodburn residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have 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
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Woodburn OR lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals 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 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. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Woodburn OR is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Oregon to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Woodburn OR area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to 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 certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential 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 critical issues 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 need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable organization 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Woodburn OR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including 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 Woodburn OR law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Woodburn OR legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Oregon legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Oregon or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Woodburn OR region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Woodburn OR. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Woodburn OR, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example 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 option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Woodburn OR?
If you live near Woodburn Oregon or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Woodburn is a city in Marion County, Oregon, United States. Incorporated in 1889, the community had been platted in 1871 after the arrival of the railroad. The city is located in the northern end of the Willamette Valley between Portland and Salem. Interstate 5 connects it to major cities to the north and south. Oregon routes 211, 214, 219, and 99E also serve the city, as do Union Pacific and Willamette Valley Railway freight rail lines.
Woodburn is part of the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area. With a population of 24,080 at the 2010 census, it is the third-most populous in that metropolitan area after Salem and Keizer. Those who identify as Hispanic or Latino make up a majority of the population in the city. The Woodburn area also has a significant historic population of Russian Orthodox Old Believers, whose ancestors settled here after the October Revolution of 1917.
Originally, the area around Woodburn was inhabited by the Kalapuya Native Americans. After the Provisional Government of Oregon set-up land claims in the Oregon Country, the United States annexed much of the Pacific Northwest and established the Oregon Territory in 1848. Congress passed the Donation Land Claim Act in 1850 and many earlier land claims became donation land claims.
Paralegal Diploma Online Woodburn OR
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies training school 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 Diploma Online. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Woodburn home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Woodburn OR.
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