How to Pick the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Teays West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Teays WV and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their Teays homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and functions, 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 Teays WV attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle 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 perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Teays WV is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in West Virginia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Teays WV area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Teays WV 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 School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Teays WV law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though 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 firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Teays WV legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in West Virginia or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Teays WV region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Teays WV. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Teays WV, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Teays WV?
If you live near Teays West Virginia or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Teays Valley, West Virginia
Teays Valley (/ˈteɪz/ TAYZ) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Putnam County, West Virginia, United States. The place is divided into the two districts of Teays Valley and Scott Depot. The population was 13,175 at the 2010 census. Teays Valley is part of the Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). As of the 2010 census, the MSA had a population of 287,702. New definitions from February 28, 2013 placed the population at 363,000.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 7.3 square miles (18.8 km²), of which 7.2 square miles (18.6 km²) is land and 0.1 square mile (0.3 km²) (1.34%) is water.
The valley referred to by "Teays Valley" is a portion of the remains of the pre-glacial Teays River. Today, the valley's water is shed through a number of creeks which empty into the Kanawha and Mud rivers.
Online Legal Studies Teays WV
Choosing the ideal paralegal certificate program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Online Legal Studies. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Teays residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Teays WV.
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