How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Wesley Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wesley ME and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably 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 at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Wesley homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wesley ME lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Wesley ME is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Maine to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Wesley ME area, in addition to 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 degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program 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 education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Wesley ME law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Wesley ME law firms 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 ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Wesley ME legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid 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 students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant 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 area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Wesley ME region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Wesley ME. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Wesley ME, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wesley ME?
If you live near Wesley 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.
Paweł Tomasz Wasilewski (Polish: ['pavɛw vaɕi'lɛfskʲi]; born July 23, 1982), known professionally as Paul Wesley and formerly as Paul Wasilewski, is a Polish-American actor, director, and producer. He is best known for his roles as Aaron Corbett in the miniseries Fallen and Stefan Salvatore on the supernatural drama series The Vampire Diaries.
Wesley was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to Polish parents Tomasz and Agnieszka Wasilewski, and grew up in Marlboro Township, New Jersey. He has one older sister, Monika Emara (née Wasilewski) and two younger sisters, Leah and Julia Wasilewski.
Wesley attended Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, New Jersey, and Marlboro High School for a period during his high school years. He started his theater studies in New York City and transferred from Marlboro High School to Lakewood Prep School in Howell, New Jersey, because the school was able to better accommodate his acting schedule. During his junior year in high school, he was cast in the soap opera Guiding Light as character Max Nickerson. He started college at Rutgers University in New Jersey but left after one semester when more roles were offered to him, and he realized he could make a career out of acting.
Choose the Ideal Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Wesley ME
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Wesley residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Wesley ME.
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