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Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Willington CT 06279

How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Willington Connecticut

Willington CT paralegal consulting with clientCongratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Willington CT and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of 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? Many prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Willington residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

Legal Assistants and Paralegals

Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Willington CT attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities can involve:

  • Investigating and fact checking cases
  • Researching applicable laws and cases
  • Preparing correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
  • Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
  • Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records

With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really 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 handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.

Paralegal Programs and Certification

Willington CT paralegal preparing documentsAs we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Willington CT is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Connecticut to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.

Things to Ask Paralegal Schools

legal library in Willington 06279Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Willington CT area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.

Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Willington CT law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.

What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Willington CT law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Willington CT legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Connecticut legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Connecticut or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly through 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 want to initially consider those schools that are within the Willington CT region.

How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Willington CT. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Willington CT, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.

Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees

student attending paralegal school online in Willington CTParalegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering 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 environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.

Will You Attend Paralegal School near Willington CT?

If you live near Willington CT 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.

Willington, Connecticut

The Willimantic River borders the town on the west. Willington is about 25 miles northeast of Hartford on Interstate 84, which also provides a connection to Boston, via the Massachusetts Turnpike. Providence, RI is accessible via U.S. Route 44. Larger communities nearby include Coventry, Stafford, Tolland, and Willimantic. The University of Connecticut is located in adjacent Mansfield. A new public library (formerly located within Hall Memorial School) opened in autumn 2006.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 33.5 square miles (87 km2), of which 33.3 square miles (86 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (0.63%) is water.

As of the census[4] of 2000 (a 2010 census is available), there were 5,959 people, 2,353 households, and 1,437 families residing in the town. The population density was 179.1 people per square mile (69.2/km²). There were 2,429 housing units at an average density of 73.0 per square mile (28.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.06% White, 0.97% African American, 0.12% Native American, 3.02% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.62% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.81% of the population.

Select the Best Paralegal School near Willington CT

Selecting the right paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Willington home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Willington CT.

Other Connecticut Locations That May Be Of Interest

  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Bridgewater CT 06752
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal East Hartford CT 06108
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Storrs Mansfield CT 06268
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal West Cornwall CT 06796
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Broad Brook CT 06016
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  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Wauregan CT 06387
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Southport CT 06490
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