How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Valentine Nebraska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Valentine NE and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Valentine residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Valentine NE lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Valentine NE is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Nebraska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Valentine NE area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to 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 most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Valentine NE law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Valentine NE law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Valentine NE legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially 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 challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Nebraska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Nebraska or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within the Valentine NE area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Valentine NE. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Valentine NE, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school 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 conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Valentine NE?
If you live near Valentine NE 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.
As late as 1967, Valentine was split between two time zones. As described in one news report, "The mountain and central time zones meet at the center of Main Street, so an hour separates the two curb lines." According to the report, when clocks were required to be set back one hour for daylight saving time, Valentine's post office (which was in the central zone) split the difference and turned back its clock by only half an hour.
Valentine participates in an annual re-mailing program where thousands of pieces of mail flow into the local United States Post Office so that they can be re-mailed with a special Valentine's Day postmark and verse.
Valentine is located at 42°52′25″N 100°33′1″W / 42.87361°N 100.55028°W / 42.87361; -100.55028 (42.873686, −100.550308). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.25 square miles (5.83 km2), of which, 2.22 square miles (5.75 km2) is land and 0.03 square miles (0.08 km2) is water.
Enroll in the Best Legal Assistant Degree Program near Valentine NE
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Valentine home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Valentine NE.
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