How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near West Enfield Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near West Enfield ME and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive 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 educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their West Enfield homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist West Enfield ME attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in West Enfield ME is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Maine to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the West Enfield ME area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation 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 thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many West Enfield ME law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools 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 training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few West Enfield ME law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the West Enfield ME legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Maine legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Maine or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the West Enfield ME area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in West Enfield ME. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near West Enfield ME, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near West Enfield ME?
If you live near West Enfield ME 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.
Enfield is a town in Penobscot County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,607 at the 2010 census. There is also a large seasonal population with many cottages located on Cold Stream Pond, a lake within the town.
In 1891, four armed men boarded and attempted to rob a train as it passed through Enfield, shooting at the engineer, fireman, and conductors. They also shot up the train station. They failed in their attempt to break into the mail-car, but it was a dark night and they escaped capture.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 33.00 square miles (85.47 km2), of which, 27.74 square miles (71.85 km2) of it is land and 5.26 square miles (13.62 km2) is water.
Find the Ideal Legal Assistant School near West Enfield ME
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your West Enfield home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in West Enfield ME.
Other Maine Locations That May Be Of Interest