How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Valley Falls Kansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Valley Falls KS and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. 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 being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Valley Falls homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Valley Falls KS 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 relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Valley Falls KS is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Kansas to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Valley Falls KS area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over 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 School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Valley Falls KS law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Valley Falls KS law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Valley Falls KS legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Kansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Kansas or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those schools that are within the Valley Falls KS region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary 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 education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Valley Falls KS. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Valley Falls KS, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Valley Falls KS?
If you live near Valley Falls KS 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.
Valley Falls, Kansas
Valley Falls was originally called Grasshopper Falls, from the falls in the Grasshopper River (now known as the Delaware River). The first settlement was made there in 1854, and the town was platted in 1855. Many of the town's streets were named after women pioneer settlers.
Valley Falls is located at 39°20′35″N 95°27′38″W / 39.34306°N 95.46056°W / 39.34306; -95.46056 (39.342936, -95.460584). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.78 square miles (2.02 km2), of which, 0.77 square miles (1.99 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Valley Falls has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
Choose the Best Legal Assistant Degree Program near Valley Falls KS
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Valley Falls residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Valley Falls KS.
Other Kansas Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 8