How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies School near Seymour Tennessee
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Seymour TN and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Seymour homes. Of those options, 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 should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Seymour TN attorneys with a diverse array 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 may help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, 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 comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Seymour TN is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Tennessee to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Seymour TN area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of 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 significant factors to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few 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 Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Seymour TN law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Seymour TN law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Seymour TN legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Tennessee legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Tennessee or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within the Seymour TN region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Seymour TN. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Seymour TN, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and can be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Seymour TN?
If you live near Seymour 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.
Seymour is a census-designated place (CDP) and unincorporated community in Blount and Sevier counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee. The CDP population was 10,919 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is included in the Knoxville, Tennessee Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Seymour was originally the site of Newell's Station, a frontier station established by early Sevier County pioneer Samuel Newell (1754–1841) in 1783. The first court of Sevier County, State of Franklin, was held at Newell's Station in March 1785. During the 19th century, the community was known as Trundles Crossroads, where the main road from Sevierville forked, with one branch continuing northward to Knoxville and one branch westward to Maryville (now the intersection of Boyds Creek Highway and Old Sevierville Pike).
Upon completion on December 18, 1909, of the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern Railway, the community's station was named Seymour in honor of the line's chief engineer, Charles Seymour. The Trundles Crossroads Post Office changed its name soon after to reflect the community's new designation.
Paralegal Assistant Training Seymour TN
Choosing the right legal assistant certificate program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Assistant Training. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Seymour home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Seymour TN.
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