How to Choose a Paralegal School near Van Buren Indiana
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Van Buren IN and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Van Buren homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options 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 fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Van Buren IN with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Van Buren IN paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number 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 perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Van Buren IN as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Indiana to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Van Buren IN.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for students in Van Buren IN searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, 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 obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded 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 could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Van Buren IN area schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Van Buren IN law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Van Buren IN paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Van Buren IN legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Indiana legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your Van Buren IN local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Van Buren IN. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Van Buren IN, make certain 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 process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Van Buren IN?
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren (December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862) was an American statesman who served as the eighth President of the United States from 1837 to 1841. A founder of the Democratic Party, he served as the ninth Governor of New York, the tenth Secretary of State, and the eighth Vice President. Van Buren won the 1836 presidential election based on the popularity of outgoing President Andrew Jackson and the organizational strength of the Democratic Party. He lost his 1840 re-election bid to Whig Party nominee William Henry Harrison due in part to the poor economic conditions of the Panic of 1837. Later in his life, Van Buren emerged as an important anti-slavery leader, and he led the Free Soil ticket in the 1848 presidential election.
Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York to a family of Dutch Americans. Van Buren was raised speaking Dutch and learned English at school, making him the only president who spoke English as a second language. Van Buren trained as a lawyer and quickly became involved in politics as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party. He won election to the New York State Senate and became the leader of the Bucktails, faction of Democratic-Republicans opposed to Governor DeWitt Clinton. Van Buren established a political machine known as the Albany Regency and emerged as the most influential politician in home state in the 1820s. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1821, and supported William H. Crawford in the 1824 presidential election. After John Quincy Adams won the 1824 election, Van Buren opposed Adams's proposals for federally-funded internal improvements and other measures. Van Buren's major political goal was to re-establish a two-party system with partisan differences based on ideology rather than personalities or sectional differences. With this goal in mind, he supported Jackson's candidacy against Adams in the 1828 presidential election. To support Jackson's candidacy, Van Buren ran for Governor of New York. After Jackson took office in 1829, Van Buren resigned as governor to accept appointment as secretary of state.
During Jackson's eight years as president, Van Buren was a key advisor, and built the organizational structure for the coalescing Democratic Party, particularly in New York. After resigning from his position in order to help resolve the Petticoat affair, Van Buren briefly served as the American ambassador to Britain. At Jackson's behest, the 1832 Democratic National Convention nominated Van Buren for vice president, and Van Buren took office after the Democratic ticket won the 1832 presidential election. With Jackson's strong support, Van Buren faced little opposition for the presidential nomination at the 1835 Democratic National Convention, and he defeated several Whig opponents in the 1836 presidential election. Van Buren's response to the Panic of 1837 centered on his Independent Treasury system, a plan under which the federal government would store its funds in vaults rather than in banks. He also continued Jackson's policy of Indian removal. In foreign affairs, he maintained peaceful relations with Britain and, seeking to avoid heightened sectional tensions, denied the application of Texas for admission to the Union. In the 1840 election, the Whigs rallied around Harrison's military record and ridiculed Van Buren as "Martin Van Ruin," and a surge of new voters helped turn Van Buren out of office.
Van Buren was the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1844, but his continued opposition to the annexation of Texas aroused the opposition of Southern Democrats and the party nominated James K. Polk. Van Buren grew increasingly opposed to slavery after he left office, and, motivated additionally by intra-party differences at the state and national level, he agreed to lead a third party ticket in the 1848 presidential election. Though he finished in a distant third nationally, Van Buren's presence in the race may have helped Whig nominee Zachary Taylor defeat Democrat Lewis Cass. Van Buren returned to the Democratic fold after the 1848 election, but he supported Abraham Lincoln's policies during the American Civil War. Van Buren's health began to fail in 1861, and he died in July 1862 at age 79. He has been generally ranked as a below-average U.S. President by historians and political scientists.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Van Buren IN
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward 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 participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Van Buren residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Van Buren IN.
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