How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Wheatland Wyoming
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wheatland WY and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal 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 options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Wheatland homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable 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 different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Wheatland WY attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized 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 functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
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. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Wheatland WY is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive 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 offered also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Wyoming to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wheatland WY area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs 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 school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wheatland WY law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Wheatland WY law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Wheatland WY legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Wyoming legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Wyoming or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly 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 charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Wheatland WY area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Wheatland WY. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Wheatland WY, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wheatland WY?
If you live near Wheatland Wyoming or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Before the late 19th century, the area around the future site of Wheatland was a flat, arid landscape with desert-like vegetation. In 1883 local rancher and judge Joseph M. Carey, along with Horace Plunkett, John Hoyt, Morton Post, Francis E. Warren, William Irvine, and Andrew Gilchrist, established the Wyoming Development Company. The company hoped to irrigate in the Wheatland Flats and profit from new development.
By the fall of 1883 an irrigation system was constructed on the Wheatland flats including a 2,380 foot long tunnel to divert water for irrigation into Bluegrass Creek and the first two of the system's canals. The Cheyenne and Northern Railway line reached the Wheatland flats in July, 1887, eventually extending to the Wyoming Central Railway at Wendover. Lots in the town of Wheatland were auctioned in 1894. By 1915 many farms were established in the irrigation district and the population of the flats was 5,277.
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,627 people, 1,657 households, and 974 families residing in the town. The population density was 884.6 inhabitants per square mile (341.5/km2). There were 1,879 housing units at an average density of 458.3 per square mile (177.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.1% White, 0.1% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 2.1% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.4% of the population.
Legal Assistant Schools Wheatland WY
Selecting the right paralegal studies degree school 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 Legal Assistant 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 Wheatland residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Wheatland WY.
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