How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Woodstown New Jersey
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Woodstown NJ and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Woodstown homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Woodstown NJ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’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 duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready 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 complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main 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 number 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 arguably 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 start your career as a legal assistant in Woodstown NJ is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After 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 New Jersey to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish 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 school (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 paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Woodstown NJ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to think about also, such as 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 researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program 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 program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. 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 Woodstown NJ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent 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 contact some Woodstown NJ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Woodstown NJ 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 entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with New Jersey legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in New Jersey or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate 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 community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within the Woodstown NJ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Woodstown NJ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Woodstown NJ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Woodstown NJ?
If you live near Woodstown 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.
Woodstown, New Jersey
Woodstown is a borough in Salem County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 3,505, reflecting an increase of 369 (+11.8%) from the 3,136 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 18 (−0.6%) from the 3,154 counted in the 1990 Census.
Woodstown was established on July 26, 1882, from portions of Pilesgrove Township based on the results of a referendum held that same day. The borough's incorporation was confirmed on March 3, 1925. The borough was named for early settler Jackanias (or Jaconias) Wood.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.625 square miles (4.209 km2), including 1.585 square miles (4.104 km2) of land and 0.040 square miles (0.105 km2) of water (2.49%).
Find the Ideal Legal Assistant Training near Woodstown NJ
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Woodstown residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Woodstown NJ.
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