How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Slidell Louisiana
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Slidell LA and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require 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 choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Slidell homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly 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 essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Slidell LA with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Slidell LA paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable 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, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Slidell LA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Louisiana to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Slidell LA.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals in Slidell LA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Slidell LA area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to consider 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 programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Slidell LA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Slidell LA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. 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 Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Slidell LA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Louisiana legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Slidell LA local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Slidell LA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Slidell LA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Slidell LA?
Slidell /slaɪˈdɛl/ is the largest city situated on the northeast shore of Lake Pontchartrain and St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 27,068 at the 2010 census. Greater Slidell has a population of about 90,000. It is part of the New Orleans−Metairie−Kenner Metropolitan Statistical Area.
One of the earlier settlers to the area was John William Gause. Along with a younger brother, Wesley Coke Asbury Gause, Judge Wingate, and several others, they left Shallotte, North Carolina, on February 18, and arrived at Pearlington, Mississippi, on April 14, 1836. Wesley and his family decided to remain there, while John and family decided to cross the Pearl River, and built a log cabin on the west bank, just a little further south. He then began a lumber mill, in the fledgling town later to be known as Slidell. His traveling back and forth from lumber yard to home created a road, known today as Gause Boulevard, a major east/west street in the town. The lumber yard was located at the northwest area of where Gause Boulevard crosses the railroad track. The log cabin was built at the very east end of the road, just a few yards from the river. The house stood until the late 1990s, and a small family burial plot still remains, where John is buried between his two wives, Lydia Russ and Johanna Frederica VanHeemskerk.
Slidell was founded on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in 1882 and 1883 during construction of the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad (N.O.N.E.). The N.O.N.E. line connected New Orleans to Meridian, Mississippi. The town was named in honor of American politician and Confederate ambassador to France John Slidell, father-in-law of real estate developer Baron Frederic Emile d'Erlanger and officially chartered by the Louisiana State Legislature in 1888.
Around 1910, Slidell began a period of economic and industrial growth. A large creosote plant was built, and Slidell became home to the Fritz Salmen Brickyard, a major producer of bricks later named St. Joe Brick. A lumber mill and shipyard were also built. Following the construction of Interstate 10, Interstate 59, and Interstate 12, Slidell became a major crossroads for those traversing the Gulf States.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Program near Slidell LA
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward 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 Slidell residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Slidell LA.
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