How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Summerland Key Florida
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Summerland Key FL and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive 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 increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Summerland Key residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Summerland Key FL with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular 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 transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, 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 are employed, but some of their regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Summerland Key FL paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 quickest way to start your career in Summerland Key FL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 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 numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Florida to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Summerland Key FL.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students in Summerland Key FL searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs 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 school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Summerland Key FL area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Summerland Key FL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Summerland Key FL paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember 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 offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Summerland Key FL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Florida legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Summerland Key FL local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. 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 also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Summerland Key FL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Summerland Key FL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Summerland Key FL?
It is home to the Brinton Environmental Center of the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base and is a field station for Mote Marine Laboratory. A private, 2550-foot community airstrip (FD51) is located just south of the Overseas Highway on West Shore Drive at mile marker 25.
While Hudgins was the chief structural engineer for the City of Miami, he met Waren Niles, whose family owned a large part of Summerland since the 1900s. In 1941, the Niles family notified Hudgins they were considering selling their Summerland property. By 1947, Hudgins had made an offer of $100,000 for the purchase of the Niles property and the family sold their Summerland real estate to Hudgins.
In the fall of 1948 two hurricanes hit the Lower Keys with tidal surges that rose six feet and caused much flood damage to the area. After Hudgins saw the high water mark on Summerland he decided that homes built in his development would have to be elevated. He purchased two surplus military buildings and had his construction crews secure them atop utility poles at the foot of what is Dobie Street today. This was not only the Hudgins family's first home on Summerland, but also one of the first homes in the Keys on stilts — if not the first in all the Keys. Building code today requires all homes be built elevated to be above the floodplain.
Hudgins drew up plans for streets and canals for the development and began dredging operations to form the canals. Unhappy with the results of the dredge, Hudgins developed a new technique that was later adopted for digging all the man made canal of the Keys.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Summerland Key FL
Selecting the right paralegal degree 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 Summerland Key home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Summerland Key FL.
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