How to Find a Paralegal School near Whiting Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Whiting ME and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive 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 on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Whiting homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, 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 separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Whiting ME attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay 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 involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs 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 job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Whiting ME is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Maine to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the field 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 cover the benefits 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.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Whiting ME area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain 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 get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Whiting ME law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Whiting ME law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Whiting ME legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Maine legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Maine or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire 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 want to first look at those colleges that are within the Whiting ME region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Whiting ME. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Whiting ME, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining 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 commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Whiting ME?
If you live near Whiting 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.
Whiting is a town in Washington County, Maine, United States. The town was named after Timothy Whiting, an early settler. The population was 487 at the 2010 census. The town was originally known as Orangetown.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 52.07 square miles (134.86 km2), of which, 46.74 square miles (121.06 km2) of it is land and 5.33 square miles (13.80 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 487 people, 206 households, and 145 families residing in the town. The population density was 10.4 inhabitants per square mile (4.0/km2). There were 378 housing units at an average density of 8.1 per square mile (3.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 93.6% White, 0.2% African American, 1.2% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.8% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.
Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Whiting ME
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Whiting home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Whiting ME.
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