How to Pick a Paralegal College near Villa Grove Illinois
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Villa Grove IL and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, 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 numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Villa Grove homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have 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 hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Villa Grove IL with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Villa Grove IL paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Villa Grove IL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Illinois to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Villa Grove IL.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for those in Villa Grove IL searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Villa Grove IL area schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Villa Grove IL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Villa Grove IL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select 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 quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Villa Grove IL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Illinois legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those schools that are within your Villa Grove IL local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure 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 accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Villa Grove IL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Villa Grove IL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Villa Grove IL?
Villa Grove, Illinois
Villa Grove was chartered in 1903 after the area was recognized by the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad (C&EI) as being exactly halfway between Chicago and St. Louis. This made it a desirable location for a steam locomotive repair facility. Villa Grove later became the site of a C&EI division headquarters and roundhouse.
Villa Grove's historic rail depot was demolished in the predawn hours of Friday, October 29, 1976 despite a city ordinance that was intended to protect the structure. The city later received reparation for the destruction.
On August 10, 2011, a 100-year-old vacant building on main street in Villa Grove was destroyed by a fire set by a two boys age 14 and 9. At least 15 fire departments responded to the blaze containing it to the original structure. The boys were ordered to pay $126,076 in restitution. The 14-year-old received 3 years probation, 30 days in jail and 100 hours of community service. The 9 year old received 2 years probation and 50 hours community service. State law prohibited jail time for the 9 year old. Adjacent businesses were temporarily displaced due to damage caused by smoke and heat.
Villa Grove's location at the confluence of Jordan Slough and the Embarras River has resulted in flooding during the city's history. In January 1950, Villa Grove was isolated by flooding, more than 1/3 of the city was underwater and the Red Cross reported 100 families were homeless. Another flood in April 1994 left over half of the city's 1,000 homes flooded and the city's water supply was tainted. At one point, portions of main street were 6 feet underwater.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Villa Grove IL
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Villa Grove home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Villa Grove IL.
Other Cool Cities in Illinois
Business Results 1 - 10 of 6