How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Tunnelton West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Tunnelton WV and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Tunnelton homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have 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
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Tunnelton WV attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree 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 everyday tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 means to begin your career as a paralegal in Tunnelton WV is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in West Virginia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Tunnelton WV area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to 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 many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating 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 select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Tunnelton WV law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Tunnelton WV law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Tunnelton WV legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in West Virginia or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within the Tunnelton WV region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Tunnelton WV. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Tunnelton WV, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into 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 conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Tunnelton WV?
If you live near Tunnelton WV 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.
Tunnelton, West Virginia
As of the census of 2010, there were 294 people, 110 households, and 74 families residing in the town. The population density was 864.7 inhabitants per square mile (333.9/km2). There were 117 housing units at an average density of 344.1 per square mile (132.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 99.0% White, 0.3% African American, and 0.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.7% of the population.
There were 110 households of which 37.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 32.7% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.09.
The median age in the town was 38 years. 25.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.9% were from 25 to 44; 24.7% were from 45 to 64; and 12.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.0% male and 52.0% female.
Select the Ideal Legal Assistant Training near Tunnelton WV
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Tunnelton residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Tunnelton WV.
Other West Virginia Locations That May Be Of Interest