How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Woodbine New Jersey
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Woodbine NJ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive 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 choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Woodbine homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Woodbine NJ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Woodbine NJ is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in New Jersey to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Woodbine NJ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Woodbine NJ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific 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. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Woodbine NJ law firms that you may be interested 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 could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Woodbine NJ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign 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 in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in New Jersey or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within the Woodbine NJ area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Woodbine NJ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Woodbine NJ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Woodbine NJ?
If you live near Woodbine 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.
Woodbine, New Jersey
Woodbine is a borough in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. It is part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 2,472, reflecting a decline of 244 (-9.0%) from the 2,716 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 38 (+1.4%) from the 2,678 counted in the 1990 Census.
Woodbine was founded in 1891 as a settlement for Eastern European Jews. The Baron DeHirsch Fund, organized by philanthropist Maurice de Hirsch, purchased 5,300 acres (21 km2) of land in Dennis Township, in Cape May County, New Jersey to start a settlement. Immigrants from Poland and Russia were invited to settle the new community. Within two years, they cleared the forest and built a town and thriving farms. 800 acres (3.2 km2) of land were set aside as town lots. The residential center of Woodbine still uses the same grid that was originally laid out in 1891. Using modern agricultural practices under the direction of agriculturist and chemist Hirsch Loeb Sabsovich, the first colonists (Woodbine was sometimes called the "Jewish Colony" in the early days) turned Woodbine into a model agricultural community.
Woodbine was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 3, 1903, from portions of Dennis Township. Because most of the original settlers were Jewish, Woodbine became known as "the first self-governing Jewish community since the fall of Jerusalem."
Choose the Right Legal Assistant Training near Woodbine NJ
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee 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 Woodbine home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective 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 review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Woodbine NJ.
Other New Jersey Locations That May Be Of Interest
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