How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Ward Colorado
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Ward CO and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices 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 searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Ward homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be considered as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Ward CO with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, 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 mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine activities may 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 stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Ward CO paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Ward CO as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can 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. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Colorado to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Ward CO.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good option for students in Ward CO searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Ward CO area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, for instance 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 investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Ward CO law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Ward CO paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, 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 a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Ward CO legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Colorado legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Ward CO local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Ward CO. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Ward CO, 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 select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Ward CO?
Montgomery Ward is the name of two historically distinct American retail enterprises. It can refer either to the defunct mail order and department store retailer, which operated between 1872 and 2001, or to the current catalog and online retailer also known as Wards.
Montgomery Ward was founded by Aaron Montgomery Ward in 1872. Ward had conceived of the idea of a dry goods mail-order business in Chicago, Illinois, after several years of working as a traveling salesman among rural customers. He observed that rural customers often wanted "city" goods, but their only access to them was through rural retailers who had little competition and did not offer any guarantee of quality. Ward also believed that by eliminating intermediaries, he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the nearest train station.
Ward started his business at his first office, either in a single room at 825 North Clark Street, or in a loft above a livery stable on Kinzie Street between Rush and State Streets. He and two partners used $1,600 they had raised in capital and issued their first catalog in August 1872. It consisted of an 8 in × 12 in (20 cm × 30 cm) single-sheet price list, listing 163 items for sale with ordering instructions for which Ward had written the copy. His two partners left the following year, but he continued the struggling business and was joined by his future brother-in-law, George Robinson Thorne.
In the first few years, the business was not well received by rural retailers. Considering Ward a threat, they sometimes publicly burned his catalog. Despite the opposition, however, the business grew at a fast pace over the next several decades, fueled by demand primarily from rural customers who were inspired by the wide selection of items that were unavailable to them locally. Customers were also inspired by the innovative company policy of "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back", which Ward began in 1875. Ward turned the copy writing over to department heads, but he continued poring over every detail in the catalog for accuracy.
Choose the Best Paralegal School near Ward CO
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Ward residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, 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 impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Ward CO.
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