How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Wanette Oklahoma
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wanette OK and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Wanette homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, 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
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable 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 are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wanette OK attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing 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 maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited 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, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Wanette OK is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Oklahoma to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wanette OK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, 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 effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wanette OK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Wanette OK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which 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 Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Wanette OK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Oklahoma legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Oklahoma or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within the Wanette OK area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Wanette OK. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wanette OK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least 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 organization, 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 may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wanette OK?
If you live near Wanette OK 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.
Wanette is a town in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 350 at the 2010 census, a decline of 13 percent from 402 at the 2000 census. Wanette is part of the Purcell-Lexington retail trade area and is within the Greater Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area.
The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture indicates that the first settlement at this location occurred in 1868, when two settlers from Kansas built a two-story cabin. Their cabin still existed as recently as 2003. Other settlers followed. The community had several different names before a post office named Wanette opened on March 19, 1894. In 1903, the town moved one mile north to be on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway line between Newkirk and Pauls Valley
By 1907, Wanette had a population of 739. The population peaked at 783 in 1920. The local economy was based on agriculture. Discovery of the Wanette-Asher oil field aided the economy during the 1930s, but did not prevent a population decline. The town still has an agricultural base, but by the beginning of the 21st Century had become a bedroom community for people working in Moore, Norman and Oklahoma City.
Choose the Best Legal Assistant School near Wanette OK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Wanette home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wanette OK.
Other Oklahoma Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 1