How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Zarephath New Jersey
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Zarephath NJ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Zarephath homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. 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 every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Zarephath NJ attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Zarephath NJ is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in New Jersey to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Zarephath NJ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Zarephath NJ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Zarephath NJ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when 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 provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Zarephath NJ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with New Jersey legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in New Jersey or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even 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 an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those colleges that are within the Zarephath NJ region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Zarephath NJ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Zarephath NJ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater 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 reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Zarephath NJ?
If you live near Zarephath NJ 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.
Zarephath, New Jersey
Zarephath (pronounced ZARRA-fath) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) and located in Franklin Township, in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States, about 15 mi (24 km) north of Princeton. As of the 2010 United States Census, Zarephath's population was 37.
It was the communal home of the Pillar of Fire Church, and was the worldwide headquarters of Pillar of Fire International, which comprises the church's college, Somerset Christian College, and radio station WAWZ-FM (the farm and publishing facilities have not been in operation since the late 1970s). It is named after Zarephath, the place in the Bible where the "widow woman" sustained the prophet Elijah. Zarephath was a group of buildings located between the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the Millstone River. Following the flooding in 2011 from Hurricane Irene, the College and all Pillar of Fire ministries were ordered to move out of this floodplain. The entire campus is slated for demolition.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Zarephath had a total area of 0.445 square miles (1.152 km2), including 0.404 square miles (1.047 km2) of it is land and 0.041 square miles (0.105 km2) of water (9.12%) is water.
Find the Right Paralegal School near Zarephath NJ
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Zarephath home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Zarephath NJ.
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