How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Telluride Colorado
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Telluride CO and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Telluride residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have 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
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Telluride CO attorneys 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 practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite 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 functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Telluride CO is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four 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. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Colorado to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Telluride CO area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Telluride CO law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as 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 Telluride CO law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Telluride CO legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Colorado legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Colorado or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 may need to first consider those schools that are within the Telluride CO area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Telluride CO. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Telluride CO, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Telluride CO?
If you live near Telluride CO 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.
Telluride is the county seat and most populous town of San Miguel County in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Colorado. The town is a former silver mining camp on the San Miguel River in the western San Juan Mountains. The first gold mining claim was made in the mountains above Telluride in 1875 and early settlement of what is now Telluride followed. The town itself was founded in 1878 as "Columbia", but due to confusion with a California town of the same name, was renamed Telluride in 1887, for the gold telluride minerals found in other parts of Colorado. These telluride minerals were never located near Telluride, causing the town to be named for a mineral which was never mined there. However, the area's mines for some years provided zinc, lead, copper, silver, and other gold ores.
Telluride sits in a box canyon. Steep forested mountains and cliffs surround it, with Bridal Veil Falls being situated at the head of the canyon. Numerous weathered ruins of old mining operations dot the hillsides. A free gondola connects the town with its companion town, Mountain Village, Colorado, at the base of the ski area. Telluride and the surrounding area have featured prominently in pop culture, and it is the subject of several popular songs. It is especially known for its ski resort and slopes during the winter, as well as an extensive festival schedule during the summer.
The Telluride Historic District, which includes a significant portion of the town, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also one of Colorado's 20 National Historic Landmarks. The town population was 2,325 in the 2010 United States Census.
Find the Ideal Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Telluride CO
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Telluride home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Telluride CO.
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