How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Program near East Providence Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near East Providence RI and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their East Providence homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist East Providence RI attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in East Providence RI is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Rhode Island to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the East Providence RI area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get 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 establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many East Providence RI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several East Providence RI law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, 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 a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the East Providence 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 upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Rhode Island or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within the East Providence RI region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in East Providence RI. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near East Providence RI, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and can be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures 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 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 example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near East Providence RI?
If you live near East Providence 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.
East Providence, Rhode Island
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.6 square miles (43 km2), of which, 13.4 square miles (35 km2) of it is land and 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) of it (19.33%) is water.
In 1641, the Plymouth Colony purchased from the Indians a large tract of land which today includes the northern half of East Providence (from Watchemoket to Rumford), Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Seekonk, Massachusetts, and part of Pawtucket. Four years later, John Brown of Plymouth bought a considerably smaller piece of land from the Indians, which today comprises the southern part of East Providence (Riverside), Barrington, and a small part of Swansea. Finally, in 1661, Plymouth completed the "North Purchase" from which Attleboro, North Attleboro, and Cumberland were later formed. Over the whole the authorities gave the name 'Rehoboth'. The center of this large settlement, which is sometimes referred to as 'Old Rehoboth', is within the borders of modern East Providence. In 1812, the western half of Old Rehoboth was set off as a separate township called Seekonk, Massachusetts. Old Rehoboth's town center now became the heart of Old Seekonk. Finally, in 1862, the western part of Old Seekonk was ceded to Rhode Island and incorporated as East Providence.
Beginning around 1900 and continuing until the onset of the Depression in 1930, large numbers of Portuguese from Providence, Fall River, New Bedford, and Portugal settled in East Providence. By 1905, there were over 400 Portuguese in the town, the third highest in the state. The Portuguese, like other ethnic groups, were drawn to East Providence primarily by the lure of jobs. Many employment opportunities were available in the Watchemoket area, where numerous immigrants settled.
Paralegal Degree East Providence RI
Selecting the right paralegal studies degree school is an important first step to guarantee 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 Degree. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your East Providence residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in East Providence RI.
Other Rhode Island Locations That May Be Of Interest
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