How to Pick the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Shelbyville Tennessee
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Shelbyville TN and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Shelbyville residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Shelbyville TN attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited 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 have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Shelbyville TN is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Tennessee to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Shelbyville TN area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add 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 already covered, there are other critical aspects to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Shelbyville TN law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Shelbyville TN law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Shelbyville TN legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Tennessee legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Tennessee or the state where you plan to work after graduation. 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 obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Shelbyville TN area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Shelbyville TN. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Shelbyville TN, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more popular and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional 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 internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Shelbyville TN?
If you live near Shelbyville Tennessee or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Shelbyville is a city in Bedford County, Tennessee, United States. It had a population of 20,335 residents at the 2010 census. Shelbyville, the county seat of Bedford County, was laid out in 1810 and incorporated in 1819. The town is a hub of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and has been nicknamed "The Walking Horse Capital of the World".
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,105 people, 6,066 households, and 4,155 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,041.3 people per square mile (402.0/km²). There were 6,550 housing units at an average density of 423.5 per square mile (163.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.14% White, 14.98% African American, 0.70% Asian, 0.35% Native American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.02% from other races, and 1.78% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 14.55% of the population.
Of the 6,066 households, 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 16.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.5% were non-families. A total of 26.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.05.
School For Paralegal Studies Shelbyville TN
Enrolling in the best legal assistant degree program 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 School For Paralegal Studies. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Shelbyville home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Shelbyville TN.
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