How to Select a Paralegal School near Slatersville Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Slatersville RI and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Slatersville residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Slatersville RI attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional 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 allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Slatersville RI is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Rhode Island to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Slatersville RI 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 include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Slatersville RI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible 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 profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Slatersville RI law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Slatersville RI legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Rhode Island or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Slatersville RI region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Slatersville RI. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Slatersville RI, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Slatersville RI?
If you live near Slatersville RI 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.
Slatersville, Rhode Island
Slatersville is a village on the Branch River in the town of North Smithfield, Rhode Island, United States. It includes the Slatersville Historic District, a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district has been included as part of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. The North Smithfield Public Library is located in Slatersville.
In the late nineteenth century, the Woonsocket and Pascoag Railroad was built through the village, and the line is now owned and operated by the Providence and Worcester Railroad. The freight rail line now terminates in Slatersville near a steel distributor by the Slater Mill, rather than its former endpoint in Pascoag.
The region was originally settled in the 17th century by British colonists as a farming community. The village was founded in 1803 by entrepreneurs Samuel and John Slater, in partnership with the Providence firm of Almy and Brown. The firm purchased the land and began construction of a textile mill. By 1807, the village included the Slatersville Mill, "the largest and most modern industrial building" of its day, two houses for workers, the owner's house, and the company store. The first mill building was destroyed by fire in 1826 and was replaced by the large stone mill which stands on the site today. Behind the 1826 mills stands a stone mill of similar design built in 1843. The mills were powered by water from the large Slatersville reservoir. Slatersville's village green was laid out in 1838 in a traditional New England pattern. Many of the houses around the Green were built by the Slater company in 1810-20. They were substantially renovated earlier in the 20th century to make Slatersville look more like a traditional New England Village. At the head of the Green stands the Slatersville Congregational Church, a steepled Greek revival building, which houses the oldest continuously operated Sunday School in America. The Slater family owned the village until 1900 when it was sold to James R. Hooper, who used the mills to bleach and dye cloth. In 1915, Hooper sold the Slatersville village to Henry P. Kendall. Kendall took a personal interest in the village and initiated many of the improvements which give Slatersville its traditional New England character. Today, Slatersville is owned by private individuals and, in 1973, it became a National Historic District, bounded by Main, Green, Church, and School Sts. and Ridge Rd., with 3,100 acres (13 km2) and 149 buildings.
Choose the Best Paralegal College near Slatersville RI
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Slatersville residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Slatersville RI.
Other Rhode Island Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 85