How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Fiskeville Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Fiskeville RI and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Fiskeville homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Fiskeville RI attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including 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 are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Fiskeville RI is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Rhode Island to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Fiskeville RI area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. 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 previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Fiskeville RI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Fiskeville RI law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Fiskeville RI legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Rhode Island or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain 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 live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Fiskeville RI area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Fiskeville RI. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Fiskeville RI, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can 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 ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Fiskeville RI?
If you live near Fiskeville 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.
Fiskeville, Rhode Island
Fiskeville is a small village in the south west corner of Cranston, Rhode Island, United States, the south east corner of the Town of Scituate, Rhode Island and across the northern side of Coventry, Rhode Island. The village's Main Street forms the border between Cranston and Scituate. Fiskeville grew up as one of several mill towns along the Pawtuxet River in the mid-1800s. The Fiskeville textile mill was formed by Dr. Caleb Fiske, a Revolutionary War doctor turned businessman in 1812. The village became home to those who worked in the mill, mostly immigrants from Portugal, France, Italy and England. Fiskeville is usually associated with Cranston rather than with Scituate as most of the original buildings including Dr. Fiske's residence were in Cranston. Although the mill and about a dozen nearby mill houses were in Scituate. Poets Karen Haskell and Darcie Dennigan both grew up, a few doors down from each other, in the 1970s and 1980s on Main Street in Fiskeville. 
Paralegal Schools Fiskeville RI
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies 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 Paralegal Schools. But as we have addressed 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 Fiskeville home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Fiskeville RI.
Other Rhode Island Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 52