How to Find a Paralegal Program near Felton Delaware
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Felton DE and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within driving range of their Felton residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Felton DE lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Felton DE is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Delaware to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Felton DE 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 particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to think about also, 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 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 enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Felton DE law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Felton DE law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Felton DE legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Delaware legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Delaware or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Felton DE region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Felton DE. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Felton DE, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs 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 quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes 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 Felton DE?
If you live near Felton DE 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.
Verna Felton (July 20, 1890 – December 14, 1966) was an American actress who was best known for providing many voices in numerous Disney animated films, as well as voicing Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople in Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones (1962–1963).
She also had roles in live-action films; however, she was most active in radio programs. She was known for her husky voice and no-nonsense attitude. Two of her most famous roles were as Dennis Day's mother Mrs. Day on The Jack Benny Program (1939–1962) and as Hilda Crocker on the CBS sitcom December Bride (1952–1959).
Felton was born in Salinas, California, on July 20, 1890. Her father, a doctor, died when she was seven years old. When going over his accounts after his death, Felton's mother discovered that though her husband had a large medical practice in San Jose, there were no records of his patients' payments for treatment and no cash in the office. Shortly before her father's death, Felton had performed in a local benefit for victims of the Galveston Flood. Her singing and dancing attracted the attention of a manager of a road show company that was playing in San Jose at the time. The manager spoke to Felton's mother, offering to give Felton a job with his company. Since the family was experiencing difficult financial times with the loss of Felton's father, her mother contacted the road show manager. Felton quickly joined the cast of the show, growing up in the theater. She acted in stage plays at the Empress Theatre in Vancouver, Canada in the late 1920's, playing the lead role in "Goldfish", "Stella Dallas", and "The Second Mrs. Tanqueray". Future husband Lee Millar directed the band for these plays.
Find the Right Legal Assistant College near Felton DE
Choosing the right paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Felton home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting 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 be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Felton DE.
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