How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Snowshoe West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Snowshoe WV and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within driving range of their Snowshoe residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Snowshoe WV attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
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 way to begin your career as a paralegal in Snowshoe WV is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in West Virginia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Snowshoe WV area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization 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 training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Snowshoe WV law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Snowshoe WV law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Snowshoe WV legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in West Virginia or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Snowshoe WV area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, 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 may be available to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Snowshoe WV. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Snowshoe WV, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Snowshoe WV?
If you live near Snowshoe 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.
Snowshoe, West Virginia
Snowshoe is an unincorporated community in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, United States, centering on the Snowshoe Mountain ski resort. It is situated in the Allegheny Mountains at a bowl shaped convergence of two high mountain ridges — Cheat and Back Allegheny Mountains — at the head of the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River. Snowshoe is site of the second highest point in the state and the peak elevation for Cheat Mountain, at Thorny Flat, which reaches 4,848 feet (1,478 m) above sea level.
Snowshoe has several commercial areas, with the most prominent being The Village at Snowshoe, located at the summit of the mountain (rather than at its base). While the area is still best known for winter activities, today the resort has extensive mountain biking trails, a popular golf course, wedding and convention areas, a number of summer outdoor activities, and also hosts a Grand National Cross Country racing event. About 480,000 skiers visit the area each year, primarily from West Virginia and the larger cities of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
Snowshoe Mountain's large property includes several developed resort areas, a conservation area, and expansive backcountry that covers 10,950 acres (44.31 km2) in total. Ski slopes make up 244 acres (0.99 km2) of the resort, which include the Snowshoe Basin, Western Territory, and Silver Creek areas.
Find the Best Paralegal Program near Snowshoe WV
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Snowshoe residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education 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 selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Snowshoe WV.
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