How to Select a Paralegal School near Timmonsville South Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Timmonsville SC and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive 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 increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Timmonsville homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles 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 different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Timmonsville SC lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, 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 confined to administrative or clerical functions more applicable 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 handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Timmonsville SC is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in South Carolina to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Timmonsville SC area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Timmonsville SC law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Timmonsville SC law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give 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 start establishing contacts within the Timmonsville SC legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in South Carolina or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those colleges that are within the Timmonsville SC region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Timmonsville SC. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Timmonsville SC, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Timmonsville SC?
If you live near Timmonsville SC 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.
Timmonsville, South Carolina
Timmonsville is a town in Florence County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 2,320 at the 2010 census, an increase of five persons from 2000. It is part of the Florence Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,315 people, 829 households, and 596 families residing in the town. The population density was 896.6 people per square mile (346.4/km²). There were 956 housing units at an average density of 370.2 per square mile (143.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 21.94% White, 77.32% Black (U.S. Census), 0.39% Native American, 0.09% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.09% from other races, and 0.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.82% of the population.
There were 829 households out of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.9% were married couples living together, 31.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 24.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.27.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Program near Timmonsville SC
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Timmonsville residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Timmonsville SC.
Other South Carolina Locations That May Be Of Interest
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University of South Carolina Aiken – Paralegal Certificate ...
University of South Carolina Aiken. ... Paralegal Certificate Course. Live course format student’s access will expire on the first business day after the last day of class, regardless of when Westlaw is purchased. Please Note: Access is required for the entire course duration.
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Nearly 4,000 paralegals are employed in South Carolina according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2011 survey. Columbia boasts the seventh highest concentration of paralegal jobs in the nation, while rural Low Country South Carolina has the third highest employment concentration of the nation’s non-metropolitan areas.
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SC Paralegal Certification | Home
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Curriculum for the Paralegal Studies Program. USC’s Paralegal Certificate Program is a skill-based educational experience. Practical skills and experience will prepare you to become an excellent paralegal and get you hired! ... Prepares you to work within the South Carolina legal environment. Note that South Carolina's legal system is similar ...
Paralegal Studies Certificate Program - Continuing ...
Paralegal Studies Certificate Program. You can earn your Paralegal Certificate from USC - in the classroom or online! Quickly complete your studies in just over six months and enter this rewarding legal field with the confidence and credentials to succeed.
SC Paralegal Certification | Certfication
certification : Why Get Certified? Establishing minimum educational and continuing educational standards for paralegals in South Carolina enhances the quality of the support services that paralegals provide to the lawyers who employ them. This, in turn, improves the quality of client representation by those lawyers.
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SOUTH CAROLINA CERTIFIED PARALEGAL
SOUTH CAROLINA CERTIFIED PARALEGAL Rule 429, SCACR APPLICATION CHECKLIST 1. APPLICATION FEE An application fee of $50 must accompany each application. The fee shall apply to the applicant’s first partial or full year of certification. Each certification period begins on July 1. Please make the check payable to the South Carolina Bar.