How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Raceland Louisiana
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Raceland LA and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Raceland residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options 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 comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Raceland LA with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Raceland LA paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Raceland LA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Louisiana to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Raceland LA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students in Raceland LA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may 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 sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Raceland LA area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a respected 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 targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Raceland LA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Raceland LA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program 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 verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Raceland LA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication 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 School Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within your Raceland LA local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Raceland LA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Raceland LA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Raceland LA?
Raceland is a census-designated place (CDP) on Bayou Lafourche in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 10,224 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Houma–Bayou Cane–Thibodaux Metropolitan Statistical Area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 21.7 square miles (56.2 km²), of which 21.6 square miles (56.1 km²) is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km²) (0.18%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,224 people, 3,656 households, and 2,837 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 472.3 people per square mile (182.3/km²). There were 3,908 housing units at an average density of 180.5 per square mile (69.7/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 71.19% White, 26.23% African American, 0.96% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.65% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.54% of the population.
There were 3,656 households out of which 37.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.2% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 18.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.14.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal School near Raceland LA
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Raceland home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program 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 programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Raceland LA.
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