How to Choose a Paralegal School near Sterling Kansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Sterling KS and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Sterling homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices 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 hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Sterling KS with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Sterling KS paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 quickest way to launch your career in Sterling KS as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Kansas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Sterling KS.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students in Sterling KS searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least 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 considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing Sterling KS area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a respected 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 online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Sterling KS law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Sterling KS paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Sterling KS legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Kansas legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Sterling KS local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Sterling KS. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Sterling KS, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Sterling KS?
For millennia, the land now known as Kansas was inhabited by Native Americans. In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1867, Rice County was founded.
In the 1890s, Jonathan S. Dillon sold groceries at his general store in Sterling. Later in 1913, he opened his first J.S. Dillon Cash Food Market in Hutchinson. Later he expanded into the Dillons grocery supermarket chain.
Sterling is located at 38°12′38″N 98°12′16″W / 38.21056°N 98.20444°W / 38.21056; -98.20444 (38.210658, -98.204549). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.71 square miles (4.43 km2), of which, 1.67 square miles (4.33 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 2,328 people, 786 households, and 510 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,394.0 inhabitants per square mile (538.2/km2). There were 933 housing units at an average density of 558.7 per square mile (215.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.1% White, 2.4% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.9% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.3% of the population.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Sterling KS
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Sterling residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Sterling KS.
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