How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Tiptonville Tennessee
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Tiptonville TN and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Tiptonville homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Tiptonville TN lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Tiptonville TN is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Tennessee to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Tiptonville TN area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering 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 enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Tiptonville TN law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Tiptonville TN law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Tiptonville TN legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Tennessee legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Tennessee or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Tiptonville TN area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Tiptonville TN. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Tiptonville TN, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure 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 reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Tiptonville TN?
If you live near Tiptonville TN 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.
Tiptonville is a town in northwest Tennessee and the county seat of Lake County, Tennessee. Its population was 2,439 as of the 2000 census and 4,464 in 2010, showing an increase of 2,025. It is also home to the Northwest Correctional Complex, a maximum security prison, known for once housing mass murderer Jessie Dotson, Jr.
Tiptonville was the scene of the surrender of Confederate forces at the end of the 1862 Battle of Island Number Ten in the American Civil War. The monument for this battle is located on State Route 22 approximately three miles north of Tiptonville, since the island itself, the focal point of the battle, has been eroded by the flow of the Mississippi River and no longer exists.
On March 19, 1901, Tiptonville was destroyed by a fire three days after a mob of white townsmen had lynched Ike Fitzgerald, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Whites speculated that the blaze, which burned 30 buildings and residences, including all of the stores on the main street, had been deliberately set by African Americans in reprisal for Fitzgerald's lynching.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Tiptonville TN
Selecting the right paralegal degree 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 attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Tiptonville residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, 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 influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Tiptonville TN.
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