How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Richmond Kentucky
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Richmond KY and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Richmond homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 fill the same job positions 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 assist lawyers in Richmond KY with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Richmond KY paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Richmond KY as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Kentucky to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Richmond KY.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more common and may be a good option for students in Richmond KY searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing 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 obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Richmond KY area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Richmond KY law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Richmond KY paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Richmond KY legal field. 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 available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Kentucky legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose 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 need to first consider those colleges that are within your Richmond KY local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Richmond KY. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Richmond KY, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Richmond KY?
Richmond is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of Madison County, Kentucky, United States. It is named after Richmond, Virginia, and is the home of Eastern Kentucky University. The population was 33,533 in 2015. Richmond is the third-largest city in the Bluegrass region (after Louisville and Lexington) and the state's sixth-largest city. Richmond serves as the center for work and shopping for south-central Kentucky. Richmond is the principal city of the Richmond–Berea Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Madison and Rockcastle counties.
The City of Richmond was founded in 1798 by Colonel John Miller from Virginia, a British American who had served with the rebels in the Revolutionary War. According to tradition, Miller was attracted to the area by the good spring water and friendly Native Americans. That year, the Kentucky legislature approved moving the county seat from Milford to land owned by Colonel Miller. The residents of Milford adamantly opposed the move, which led to a fist fight between Dave Kennedy (representing Milford) and William Kearly (representing Richmond). The county approved the move in March 1798. On July 4, 1798, the new town was named Richmond in honor of Miller's Virginia birthplace. Richmond was incorporated in 1809.
Kentucky was a border state during the Civil War and stayed in the Union. On August 30, 1862, during the Civil War, the Union and Confederate Armies clashed in the Battle of Richmond. Troops under Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith routed the soldiers of Union General William Nelson. Out of Nelson's 6,500 men, only 1,200 escaped; the rest were all captured. One historian called this battle "the nearest thing to a Cannae ever scored by any general, North or South, in the course of the whole war." [page needed]
In 1906, Eastern Kentucky State Normal School was founded in Richmond to train teachers. There were eleven members of the first graduating class in 1909. By 1922 it had expanded its curriculum to a four-year program and was established as a college. It added graduate-degree programs in 1935. In recognition of its academic departments and research, in 1965 the institution was renamed as Eastern Kentucky University.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Richmond KY
Choosing the right paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Richmond residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Richmond KY.
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