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Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Woodstock Valley CT 06282

How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Woodstock Valley Connecticut

Woodstock Valley CT paralegal consulting with clientCongratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Woodstock Valley CT and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Woodstock Valley homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Woodstock Valley CT attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities might involve:

  • Investigating and fact checking cases
  • Researching relevant cases and laws
  • Drafting correspondence and legal papers
  • Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
  • Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
  • Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records

With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals 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 attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.

Paralegal Training and Certification

Woodstock Valley CT paralegal preparing documentsAs we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Woodstock Valley CT is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Connecticut to work 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 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.

Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges

legal library in Woodstock Valley 06282Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Woodstock Valley CT area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.

Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Woodstock Valley CT law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.

What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Woodstock Valley CT law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Sponsor 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 present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Woodstock Valley CT legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Connecticut legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Connecticut or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Woodstock Valley CT region.

What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Woodstock Valley CT. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Woodstock Valley CT, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.

Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees

student attending paralegal school online in Woodstock Valley CTParalegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more 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 program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.

Will You Attend Paralegal School near Woodstock Valley CT?

If you live near Woodstock Valley 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.

Woodstock, Connecticut

In the mid-17th century, John Eliot, a Puritan missionary to the American Indians, established "praying towns" where Native Americans took up Christianity and were expected to renounce their religious ceremonies, traditional dress, and customs. One Praying town, called Wabaquasset (Senexet, Wabiquisset), six miles west of the Quinebaug River in present-day Woodstock, was the largest of the three northeastern Connecticut praying towns.

In 1675, when King Philip's War broke out, some of the town's Indians, (especially in the southern part of the town) sided with the Mohegans and the English while others sided with the Indians led by Philip, rallying to arms on what is now Curtis Island in present Holland, Massachusetts and Brimfield, Massachusetts. During the war, the Praying town became deserted, and the English with their Indian allies marched through Woodstock to present day Thompson in the summer of 1676 burning any crops or stored corn they could find.[2]

In 1682, Massachusetts bought a tract of land, which included Woodstock, from the Mohegans. A group of 13 men from Roxbury, Massachusetts (home of the Pastorate of Woodstock's earlier visitor, John Eliot), settled the town in 1686 and named it New Roxbury. Judge Samuel Sewall suggested the town change its name to Woodstock in 1690, citing its proximity to Oxford, Massachusetts, and in 1749 the town became part of Connecticut.[2] The present name is after Woodstock, in England.[3]

Choose the Ideal Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Woodstock Valley CT

Selecting the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Woodstock Valley residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of 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 review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Woodstock Valley CT.

Other Connecticut Locations That May Be Of Interest

  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal West Granby CT 06090
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  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Killingworth CT 06419
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Oakdale CT 06370
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Colchester CT 06415
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Storrs Mansfield CT 06268
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Lakeville CT 06039
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Pomfret Center CT 06259
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Bethel CT 06801
  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Orange CT 06477
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