How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant School near Whitney Texas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Whitney TX and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Whitney residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Whitney TX lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Whitney TX is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Texas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Whitney TX area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree 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 issues to consider also, 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 programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Whitney TX law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Whitney TX law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep 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 Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Whitney TX legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Texas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Texas or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. 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 want to initially look at those schools that are within the Whitney TX region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Whitney TX. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Whitney TX, verify classes are offered 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, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Whitney TX?
If you live near Whitney Texas or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The city is 3 miles (5 km) east of Lake Whitney, the site of the very first bass fishing tournament. Organized by the local newspaper, it took place in 1955 with 73 teams participating.
Located in western Hill County at 31°57′3″N 97°19′15″W / 31.95083°N 97.32083°W / 31.95083; -97.32083 (31.950876, -97.320716).Texas State Highway 22 passes through the southeast side of the city, leading east 12 miles (19 km) to Hillsboro, the county seat, and west 26 miles (42 km) to Meridian. Lake Whitney State Park is 3 miles (5 km) west of Whitney via Farm Road 1244.
At the 2000 census, there were 1,833 people, 684 households and 443 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,132.3 per square mile (436.9/km²). There were 770 housing units at an average density of 475.6 per square mile (183.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 88.11% White, 7.09% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 2.73% from other races, and 1.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.27% of the population.
Paralegal Online College Whitney TX
Selecting the best paralegal training program is a crucial 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 Online College. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Whitney home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Whitney TX.
Other Texas Locations That May Be Of Interest