How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Paul Idaho
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Paul ID and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Paul residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Paul ID attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Paul ID is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be earned 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. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Idaho to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 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 guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Paul ID area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. 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 significant aspects to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Paul ID law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 some Paul ID law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Paul ID legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Idaho legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Idaho or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within the Paul ID region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Paul ID. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Paul ID, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least 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 looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Paul ID?
If you live near Paul ID or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Paul is a city in Minidoka County, Idaho, United States founded in 1907. The population was 1,169 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Burley, Idaho Micropolitan Statistical Area. The town received its name from Charles H. Paul, an engineer on the Minidoka Reclamation Project.
Paul is located at 42°36′23″N 113°47′0″W / 42.60639°N 113.78333°W / 42.60639; -113.78333 (42.606349, -113.783235), at 4,150 feet (1,260 m) in elevation. It lies within the Magic Valley region of the Snake River Plain.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,169 people, 446 households, and 311 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,826.6 inhabitants per square mile (705.3/km2). There were 473 housing units at an average density of 739.1 per square mile (285.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 76.6% White, 0.9% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 18.0% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28.5% of the population.
Find the Ideal Legal Assistant Program near Paul ID
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Paul home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, 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. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Paul ID.
Other Idaho Locations That May Be Of Interest