How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Summerfield Kansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Summerfield KS and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Summerfield homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Summerfield KS with a wide variety of job functions, such as 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 work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their routine tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Summerfield KS paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted 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 functions 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Summerfield KS as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Kansas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Summerfield KS.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for students in Summerfield KS searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Summerfield KS area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn 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 searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Summerfield KS law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Summerfield KS paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Summerfield KS legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide 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 undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Kansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within your Summerfield KS local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, 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 as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Summerfield KS. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Summerfield KS, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Summerfield KS?
Summerfield is located at 39°59′47″N 96°20′57″W / 39.99639°N 96.34917°W / 39.99639; -96.34917 (39.996439, -96.349249). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.34 square miles (0.88 km2), all of it land.
As of the census of 2010, there were 156 people, 79 households, and 41 families residing in the city. The population density was 458.8 inhabitants per square mile (177.1/km2). There were 107 housing units at an average density of 314.7 per square mile (121.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.1% White, 0.6% African American, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.3% of the population.
There were 79 households of which 20.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 48.1% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.97 and the average family size was 2.68.
The median age in the city was 51.2 years. 19.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 14.7% were from 25 to 44; 39% were from 45 to 64; and 21.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.4% male and 52.6% female.
Select the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Summerfield KS
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is an important 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 at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Summerfield residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training 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 right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Summerfield KS.
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