How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Orem Utah
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Orem UT and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive 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 increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Orem homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants 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 belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Orem UT lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent 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 maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability 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 arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Orem UT is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Utah to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Orem UT area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Orem UT law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Orem UT law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Orem UT legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing 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 good relationships with Utah legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Utah or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. 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 first consider those schools that are within the Orem UT region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Orem UT. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Orem UT, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Orem UT?
If you live near Orem Utah or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Orem is a city in Utah County, Utah, United States, in the northern part of the state. It is adjacent to Provo, Lindon, and Vineyard and is about 45 miles (72 km) south of Salt Lake City. Orem is one of the principal cities of the Provo-Orem, Utah Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Utah and Juab counties. The population was 84,324 at the 2000 census, while the 2010 population was 88,328 making it the fifth-largest city in Utah. Utah Valley University is located in Orem. The Orem Owlz of the minor league baseball Pioneer League play their home games at the college.
Orem uses the slogan "Family City USA." In 2010 Forbes rated it the 5th best place to raise a family. Also, Time magazine rated the Provo-Orem area as the best place to live for spiritual well-being, due to a high population of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At one time the area was known as Sharon, a Biblical name for a mostly level strip of land running between mountains and the sea, and the name of the Vermont birth town of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. Another former name was Provo Bench. In an apparent attempt to attract more investment to the town and provide an easy way for the large population of farmers with orchards to ship produce, in 1914 it was named after Walter C. Orem, President of the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad in the early 1900s. Orem was incorporated on May 5, 1919.
As of 2011 the 88,112 residents of Orem had a racial and ethnic composition of 89.3% white, 0.9% black or African American, 0.9% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islanders, 4% non-Hispanics reporting some other race, 2.9% two or more races reported and 14.8% Hispanic, as Orem has a large Mexican American community with other Latinos residing in the city. This contrasts with the census of 2000, which showed a racial makeup of 90.80% White, 0.33% African American, 0.73% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.86% Pacific Islander, 3.64% from other races, and 2.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.56% of the population. The 2000 Census counted 84,324 people, 23,382 households, and 19,079 families. The population density at that time was 4,572.6 people per square mile (1,765.6/km²). There were 24,166 housing units at an average density of 1,310.4 per square mile (506.0/km²). There were 23,382 households out of which 48.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.0% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.4% were non-families. 12.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.57 and the average family size was 3.93.
Paralegal Schools Orem UT
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies training 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 Paralegal Schools. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Orem home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Orem UT.
Other Utah Locations That May Be Of Interest
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