How to Pick the Right Paralegal Studies Program near New Ellenton South Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near New Ellenton SC and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive 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 a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their New Ellenton residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help New Ellenton SC attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite 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 paralegals are not limited 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in New Ellenton SC is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in South Carolina to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning 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 Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the New Ellenton SC area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out 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 begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many New Ellenton SC law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific 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. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 New Ellenton SC law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the New Ellenton SC legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in South Carolina or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within the New Ellenton SC region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in New Ellenton SC. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near New Ellenton SC, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near New Ellenton SC?
If you live near New Ellenton 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.
New Ellenton, South Carolina
New Ellenton was formed from the citizens of Ellenton, a farming town chartered in 1880 and situated on the Charleston and Western Carolina Railway in Barnwell County near the Aiken County line. Upon the approval of President Truman in 1950 of the Savannah River Site for the production of hydrogen bombs, the U.S. government forced 6,000 people in the surrounding area to move. The residents of Ellenton literally moved their homes and buildings 14 miles (23 km) north to New Ellenton after being evicted in the 1950s.
New Ellenton is located at 33°25′17″N 81°40′51″W / 33.42139°N 81.68083°W / 33.42139; -81.68083 (33.421311, −81.680856) in southern Aiken County, about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the U.S. Department of Energy Savannah River Site. South Carolina Highway 19 is Main Street for the community, leading north 10 miles (16 km) to Aiken, the county seat, and south 1 mile to U.S. Route 278, which leads west 17 miles (27 km) to Augusta, Georgia, and southeast 24 miles (39 km) to Barnwell.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,250 people, 876 households, and 616 families residing in the town. The population density was 449.4 people per square mile (173.4/km²). There were 1,079 housing units at an average density of 215.5 per square mile (83.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 60.62% White, 35.82% African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.89% from other races, and 1.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.18% of the population.
Becoming A Legal Assistant New Ellenton SC
Selecting the best paralegal training program is an essential 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 Becoming A Legal Assistant. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your New Ellenton residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed 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 ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in New Ellenton SC.
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