How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Wrightsville Beach North Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wrightsville Beach NC and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by searching for schools within commuting range of their Wrightsville Beach homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, 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.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only 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 Wrightsville Beach NC attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, 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 might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Wrightsville Beach NC is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in North Carolina to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations in the profession 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 ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Wrightsville Beach NC area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate 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 covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Wrightsville Beach NC law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program 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 contact some Wrightsville Beach NC law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Wrightsville Beach NC legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with North Carolina legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in North Carolina or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Wrightsville Beach NC area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Wrightsville Beach NC. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Wrightsville Beach NC, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wrightsville Beach NC?
If you live near Wrightsville Beach NC 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.
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Wrightsville Beach is a town in New Hanover County, North Carolina, United States. Wrightsville Beach is just east of Wilmington and is part of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,477 at the 2010 census. The town consists of a four-mile-long beach island, an interior island called Harbor Island, and pockets of commercial property on the mainland.
A post office called Wrightsville was established in 1881. Wrightsville Beach is composed of two islands that are separated by two different bodies of water. Bradley Creek runs between the mainland and the Hammocks (currently known as Harbor Island). The Hammocks are then separated from the beach by Banks Channel. In the 1700 and 1800’s the Hammocks were accessible by a footbridge from the mainland and by boat. The beach itself was only accessible by boat.
The first documented history of present-day Wrightsville Beach began when the Lord’s Proprietors granted land to Charles Harrison in 1725. The land grant was for 640 acres (259 ha) located north of the present day Hiede Trask Bridge that runs over the Intracoastal Waterway and was the first formal ownership of property near the beach.
Enroll in the Best Legal Assistant Program near Wrightsville Beach NC
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Wrightsville Beach residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, 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 influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wrightsville Beach NC.
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