How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Wolsey South Dakota
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wolsey SD and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Wolsey residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Wolsey SD lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. 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 they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Wolsey SD is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in South Dakota to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wolsey SD area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare 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 prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wolsey SD law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Wolsey SD law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating 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 outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Wolsey SD legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with South Dakota legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in South Dakota or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within the Wolsey SD area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Wolsey SD. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Wolsey SD, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wolsey SD?
If you live near Wolsey SD 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.
Wolsey, South Dakota
The first settlement at Wolsey was made in 1882. A post office has been in operation in Wolsey since 1883, the same year the town was platted. The township was organized the following year, in 1884. The town of Wolsey was named for Thomas Wolsey, an English cardinal.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.31 square miles (5.98 km2), of which, 2.27 square miles (5.88 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 376 people, 165 households, and 106 families residing in the town. The population density was 165.6 inhabitants per square mile (63.9/km2). There were 194 housing units at an average density of 85.5 per square mile (33.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 99.2% White, 0.3% Asian, and 0.5% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.8% of the population.
Choose the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Wolsey SD
Selecting the right paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Wolsey residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wolsey SD.
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