How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near West Grove Pennsylvania
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near West Grove PA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their West Grove residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help West Grove PA lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their routine tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited 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 handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in West Grove PA is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Many 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 extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Pennsylvania to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the West Grove PA area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select 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 targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous West Grove PA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 call some West Grove PA law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the West Grove PA legal community. 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 upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Pennsylvania legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Pennsylvania or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the West Grove PA region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost 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 obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in West Grove PA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near West Grove PA, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near West Grove PA?
If you live near West Grove Pennsylvania or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
West Grove, Pennsylvania
The village of West Grove derived its name from the Friends Meeting House on Harmony Road built in 1787 several miles west of the Friends Meeting House in the village of London Grove. West Grove was separated from London Grove Township and became an incorporated borough on November 29, 1893. However, the decree of incorporation was not recorded until January 9, 1894, to prevent confusing the tax accounts of London Grove Township and to eliminate the need for a special borough election.
The move for incorporation followed several years of significant growth in West Grove that began to develop with the coming of the Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad in 1860. The March 28, 1885, the Daily Local News described West Grove as "one of the most flourishing villages in this county" and stated that "it contains some three flouring mills and the largest nursery for rose culture [see below] in the United States (Dinger & Conrad, Co.), a large casket factory (Paxson Comfort) and a large number of dwellings." In May 1885, the Chester County Democrat reported that thirty new homes were under construction in the village of West Grove.
The "Father of West Grove" was Joseph Pyle. Born in Penn Township in 1836, Joseph Pyle opened a general store in 1860 in the brick building that is currently empty but housed a Rite Aid Pharmacy, Eckerd Pharmacy, and West Grove Pharmacy in the past. This building was constructed by Pyle and is believed to be the oldest brick structure in the center of town. Joseph Pyle constructed many of the commercial buildings along the present-day Exchange Place, including the Roselyn Theater Building in 1867 (torn down in 1980), the National Bank of West Grove building in 1883 and the K&P Building in 1885. Appointed postmaster of the borough by President Lincoln in 1864, Pyle served twenty-two years. Furthermore, Pyle introduced the manufacture of brick, planned and installed the first public water system, was President of the West Grove Improvement Company which financed the construction of the casket factory in 1885, served on Borough Council and was Burgess (Mayor) from 1900-1903.
School For Legal Assistant West Grove PA
Selecting the right legal assistant degree program is a vital 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 School For Legal Assistant. But as we have covered 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 West Grove residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in West Grove PA.
Other Pennsylvania Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 27