How to Choose a Paralegal School near Wixom Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wixom MI and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Wixom residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at 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 the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Wixom MI attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Wixom MI is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Michigan to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Wixom MI area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective 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 consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. 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. Numerous Wixom MI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Wixom MI law practices 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 may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Wixom MI legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing 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 Michigan legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Michigan or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire 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 investigate those colleges that are within the Wixom MI region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Wixom MI. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Wixom MI, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering 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 setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wixom MI?
If you live near Wixom MI 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.
Wixom is a city that lies in the borders of northwest Novi and southwest Commerce Township in Oakland County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 13,498 at the 2010 census. The city was home to the former Wixom Assembly Plant, which produced the Lincoln LS, the Ford Thunderbird, the Ford GT, and the Lincoln Town Car. The plant closed its doors on May 31, 2007.
Wixom is home to several production and manufacturing businesses, including Trijicon, a leading manufacturer of night gun sights and night telescopic sights; Discraft, a leading manufacturer of flying discs for disc sports games like Ultimate; the U.S. headquarters of spark plug manufacturer NGK; Majic Window, the worlds largest distributor of fiberglass replacement home windows; MAC Valves, Inc., a manufacturer of pneumatic valves used in the automotive and packaging industries, and Foster Specialty Floors the state's largest and oldest sports flooring contractor.
The settlement of Wixom dates back to 1831. In the beginning Wixom was named Sibley's Corners after the first settler, 20 year old philanthropist Alonzo Sibley. Sibley settled in what is today called Commerce Township, where he purchased approximately 80 acres of land. Overtime, Sibley had established and purchased about 350 more acres of land. In 1837 Sibley donated a portion of his property for a local cemetery; which was called South Commerce Burial Ground; however, was later changed to Wixom Cemetery. Sibley then became the president of the cemetery association.
Find the Best Legal Assistant Program near Wixom MI
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Wixom residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wixom MI.
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