How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Villa Park Illinois
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Villa Park IL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career 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 know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Villa Park homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 fill the same 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 help attorneys in Villa Park IL with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Villa Park IL paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions 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 are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially 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 start your career in Villa Park IL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might 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 increase your career opportunities, but help establish 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Villa Park IL.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for individuals in Villa Park IL looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into 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 obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Villa Park IL area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical aspects to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Villa Park IL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Villa Park IL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, 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 contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. 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 Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Villa Park IL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Illinois legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through 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 require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those schools that are within your Villa Park IL local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Villa Park IL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Villa Park IL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Villa Park IL?
Villa Park, Illinois
Villa Park is a village in DuPage County, Illinois, United States, within the Chicago metropolitan area. The current population is 21,800. The Village of Villa Park is an inner western suburb of Chicago near the hub of eastern DuPage County’s busiest transportation corridor, just five miles from O’Hare International Airport and within 25 miles of Midway International Airport.
Villa Park lays 19.7 miles directly west of Chicago’s Loop (Downtown), Villa Park provides direct access to downtown Chicago by car or Metra train and is very convenient to both O’Hare and Midway Airports and the rest of the western suburbs due to its proximity to Interstate 290 (Illinois), Interstate 355, Interstate 294, Illinois Route 53, Illinois Route 83, Interstate 88 (Illinois), Illinois Route 38, and famous North Avenue (Chicago)
When Ovaltine established its factory, it needed a way to make sure that its employees could get to and from work safely regardless of the weather, terrain or other issues. Villa Park was built originally for that reason.
Following the construction of a subdivision called Villa Park in 1908 and another called Ardmore in 1910 by the real estate firm Ballard & Pottinger, Villa Park was incorporated in 1914 by uniting the two subdivisions of 300 people. The first village president, William H. Calhoun, was elected on September 12, 1914. Although the merged town was originally named after the Ardmore subdivision, the community changed its name to Villa Park in 1917. Villa Park was one of a number of suburbs directly west of downtown Chicago that flourished as a result of the electric interurban line, the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad. The railroad ran from the Chicago Loop, directly west to Wheaton, Illinois, where it then split into two lines, one traveling southwest to Aurora and the other northwest to Elgin. Two small commercial areas developed, one around the Villa Avenue station and the other around the Ardmore Avenue station. In 1957, the CA&E ceased to carry passengers because of a dramatic drop in ridership from the loss of a one-seat ride by the construction of the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) and the general increase in use of personal automobiles. The right-of-way was eventually cleaned up and developed into a hiking and bicycling trail known as the Illinois Prairie Path. The Ardmore Station is now home to the Chamber of Commerce, and the Villa Avenue Station houses the Villa Park Historical Society.
Select the Ideal Paralegal College near Villa Park IL
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Villa Park home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Villa Park IL.
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