How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Moscow Idaho
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Moscow ID and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Moscow homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 basically both hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 help lawyers in Moscow ID with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Moscow ID paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training 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 educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Moscow ID as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Idaho to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Moscow ID.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for those in Moscow ID looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Moscow ID area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective 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 aspects to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency 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 education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Moscow ID law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Moscow ID paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Moscow ID legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs 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 Idaho legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those schools that are within your Moscow ID local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Moscow ID. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Moscow ID, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Moscow ID?
Moscow (/ˈmɒskoʊ/ MOS-koh) is a city in northern Idaho along the state border with Washington, with a population of 23,800 at the 2010 census. The county seat and largest city of Latah County, Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho, the state's land grant institution and primary research university, as well as the home of New Saint Andrews College, a Christian liberal arts college.
It is the principal city in the Moscow, Idaho Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Latah County. The city contains over 60% of the county's population, and while the university is Moscow's dominant employer, the city also serves as an agricultural and commercial hub for the Palouse region.
Along with the rest of northern Idaho, Moscow is in the Pacific Time Zone, the elevation of its city center is 2,579 feet (786 m) above sea level. Major highways serving the city are US-95 (north-south) and Highway 8 (east-west), both of which are routed through central Moscow. Limited commercial air service is four miles west (6 km) at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.
Moscow lies on the eastern edge of the Palouse region of north central Idaho in the Columbia River Plateau. East of the city is a valley within the mountains of the Palouse Range to the northeast, whose highest point is Moscow Mountain at 4,983 feet (1,519 m) above sea level. The less prominent Paradise Ridge at 3,702 feet (1,128 m) and Tomer Butte at 3,474 feet (1,059 m) are southeast of the city. Paradise Creek, with headwaters on Moscow Mountain to the northeast, flows through Moscow, then crosses the state border and joins the south fork of the Palouse River near Pullman, which eventually drains into the Snake River and Columbia River on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
Choose the Right Paralegal School near Moscow ID
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Moscow residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and 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 prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Moscow ID.
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