How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Washoe Valley Nevada
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Washoe Valley NV and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Washoe Valley homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Washoe Valley NV attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to 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 transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Washoe Valley NV is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Nevada to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Washoe Valley NV area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many 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 aspects to research 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 investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Washoe Valley NV law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Washoe Valley NV law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Washoe Valley NV legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Nevada legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Nevada or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within the Washoe Valley NV area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Washoe Valley NV. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Washoe Valley NV, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater 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 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 study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Washoe Valley NV?
If you live near Washoe Valley NV 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.
Washoe County, Nevada
Washoe County was created on November 25, 1861, as one of the original nine counties of the Nevada Territory. It is named after the Washoe people who originally inhabited the area. It was consolidated with Roop County in 1864. Washoe City was the first county seat in 1861 and was replaced by Reno in 1871.
Washoe County is the setting of the 1965 episode "The Wild West's Biggest Train Holdup" of the syndicated western television series, Death Valley Days. In the story line, deputy Jim Brand (Charles Bateman) places a locked chain on a Central Pacific Railroad engine until the company agrees to pay its tax assessment. Roy Barcroft played the aging Sheriff Jackson with Pat Priest as his daughter, N Brand.
In 1911, a small group of Bannock under a leader named "Shoshone Mike" killed four ranchers in Washoe County. A posse was formed, and on February 26, 1911, they caught up with the band, and eight of them were killed, along with one member of the posse, Ed Hogle. Three children and a woman who survived the battle were captured. The remains of some of the members of the band were repatriated from the Smithsonian Institution to the Fort Hall Idaho Shoshone-Bannock Tribe in 1994.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Washoe Valley NV
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Washoe Valley home. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private 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 programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Washoe Valley NV.
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