How to Choose the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Exeter Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Exeter RI and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find 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 one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Exeter homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Exeter RI attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Exeter RI is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Rhode Island to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Exeter RI area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can 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 the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Exeter RI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as 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 Exeter RI law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Exeter RI legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Rhode Island or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within the Exeter RI area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. 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 also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Exeter RI. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Exeter RI, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online 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 particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Exeter RI?
If you live near Exeter Rhode Island or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Exeter, Rhode Island
Exeter is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. Exeter extends east from the Connecticut border to the town of North Kingstown. It is bordered to the north by West Greenwich and East Greenwich, and to the south by Hopkinton, Richmond, and South Kingstown. Exeter's postal code is 02822, although small parts of the town have the mailing address West Kingston (02892) or Saunderstown (02874). The population was 6,425 at the 2010 census.
The town of Exeter was formed in 1742 from the western part of North Kingstown. The name Exeter derives from the county town and cathedral city of Exeter in Devon, England. Numerous other places have also been given the name Exeter. Exeter is noted by folklorists as the site of one of the best documented examples of vampire exhumation: the Mercy Brown Vampire Incident of 1892.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 58.4 square miles (151 km2), of which, 57.7 square miles (149 km2) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) of it (1.15%) is water.
Paralegal Studies Exeter RI
Choosing the right legal assistant certificate program is a vital 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 Paralegal Studies. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Exeter home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Exeter RI.
Other Rhode Island Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 37