How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Thomas West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Thomas WV and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Thomas homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Thomas WV lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically 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 comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on 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 arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Thomas WV is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in West Virginia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Thomas WV area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation 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 properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose 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 training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Thomas WV law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Thomas WV law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Thomas WV legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in West Virginia or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Thomas WV area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember 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 cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Thomas WV. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Thomas WV, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Thomas WV?
If you live near Thomas 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.
Thomas, West Virginia
Thomas was platted in 1884. Thomas was named for Thomas Beall Davis (1828-1911), brother of Senator Henry Gassaway Davis. The Davis brothers, in 1883, opened a mine near Thomas and had coal ready to ship when their railway arrived a year later. By 1892, Davis Coal and Coke was among the largest and best known coal companies in the world and employed 1,600 people. At the peak of its operations in 1915, there were nine producing mines within a mile of the company's office in Thomas.
Immigrants flocked to the area as miners, railroad laborers, or merchants. The Company employed a man named Wladyslaw Dackiewicz as an interpreter. He could speak, read, and write eight languages and his services were much in demand with the influx of immigrants.
In 1901, in less than two hours, nearly half of Thomas (83 buildings) was destroyed by a fire. The city was quickly rebuilt with fine hotels and a new opera house. The Cottrill Opera House had a saloon on the first floor which was by far the most elegant of the eight bars located on Front Street. In 1909, Front Street (also known as First Street, Main Street, and East Avenue) was laid with brick to become the first paved street in the county.
Find the Best Paralegal College near Thomas WV
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Thomas residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Thomas WV.
Other West Virginia Locations That May Be Of Interest
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Paralegal Schools in West Virginia. This overview of paralegal schools in West Virginia contains key information about the paralegal certificate and degree programs available in the state. The colleges and universities in West Virginia offer a variety of paralegal programs from general paralegal studies to specialty topics like e-discovery and corporate law which may be a good fit for your career aspirations.
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Become a Certified Paralegal in West Virginia As mentioned in Step 1 above, one way to fulfill the proposed paralegal standards of the West Virginia Legislature is to become a Certified Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA).
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Get ready to enter into a deliciously beneficial new future as a paralegal by taking legal assistant classes in your local region of West Virginia.See below for details on these courses and their precise school and campus locations near Princeton.Make sure to click on each school that interests you and fill out the easy to use form for all the info you should have for registration dates and ...