How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Newberry South Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Newberry SC and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Newberry homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold 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 separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Newberry SC attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their routine activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially 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 Newberry SC is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in South Carolina to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Newberry SC area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to think about also, 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 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 recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get 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 quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Newberry SC law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Newberry SC law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if 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 give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Newberry SC legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in South Carolina or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Newberry SC region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, 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 as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Newberry SC. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Newberry SC, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Newberry SC?
If you live near Newberry South Carolina or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Newberry, South Carolina
Newberry is a city in Newberry County, South Carolina, United States, in the Piedmont 43 miles (69 kilometers) northwest of Columbia. The charter was adopted in 1894. The population was 10,277 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Newberry County; at one time it was called Newberry Courthouse.
Newberry is located at 34°16′40″N 81°37′00″W / 34.277655°N 81.616560°W / 34.277655; -81.616560Coordinates: 34°16′40″N 81°37′00″W / 34.277655°N 81.616560°W / 34.277655; -81.616560 (34.277655, -81.616560).
As of the 2000 census, there were 10,580 people, 3,970 households, and 2,528 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,609.2 people per square mile (621.8/km²). There were 4,388 housing units at an average density of 667.4 per square mile (257.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 52.85% White, 41.36% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 2.88% from other races, and 1.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.49% of the population.
Online Paralegal Programs Accredited Newberry SC
Choosing the best paralegal studies training school is an essential 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 Online Paralegal Programs Accredited. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Newberry residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad 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 elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Newberry SC.
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