How to Find a Paralegal Program near Rumford Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Rumford RI and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Rumford residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, 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 Rumford RI lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually 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 code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready 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 complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Rumford RI is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Rhode Island to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Rumford RI area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Rumford RI law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Rumford RI law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Rumford RI legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success 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 sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Rhode Island or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within the Rumford RI area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Rumford RI. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of 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 Rumford RI, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools 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 quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Rumford RI?
If you live near Rumford 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.
Rumford, Rhode Island
Rumford, Rhode Island is the northern section of the city of East Providence, Rhode Island. It borders Seekonk, Massachusetts, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and the Ten Mile River (Seekonk River). Rumford has been part of three towns and two states: Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Seekonk, Massachusetts, and East Providence, Rhode Island. It became part of Rhode Island in 1862. Rumford Baking Powder was made in the town at the Rumford Chemical Works and was named after Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford.
Wannamoisett Country Club was established in Rumford in 1898 on land rented from Rumford Chemical Works, and it hosts the Northeast Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament each year. The 1931 PGA Championship was played here.
About 150 acres (61 ha) of the Rumford area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, encompassing the historic heart of old Seekonk and the 19th-century center of East Providence.
Select the Right Legal Assistant College near Rumford RI
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Rumford home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Rumford RI.
Other Rhode Island Locations That May Be Of Interest
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