How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Waterville Maine
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Waterville ME and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Waterville residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Waterville ME with a wide range 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 work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Waterville ME paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Waterville ME as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Maine to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Waterville ME.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for those in Waterville ME searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater 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 highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of assessing Waterville ME area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should 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 online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Waterville ME law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Waterville ME paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Waterville ME legal community. Ask 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 most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Maine legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, 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 important to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within your Waterville ME local region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Waterville ME. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Waterville ME, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Waterville ME?
Waterville is a city in Kennebec County of the U.S. state of Maine, United States, on the west bank of the Kennebec River. Home to Colby College and Thomas College, the population was 15,722 at the 2010 census. Waterville is also the latter of the cities which make up the Augusta-Waterville, ME Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Waterville has a Mayor and council-manager form of government, led by a mayor and a seven-member city council. The city council is the governing board, and the city manager is the chief administrative officer of the City, responsible for the management of all City affairs. The city is also home to Fox affiliate WPFO and Daystar rebroadcaster WFYW-LP both serving the Portland market and to several radio stations including Colby's WMHB, country WEBB, adult standards WTVL and MPBN on 91.3 FM. The film Wet Hot American Summer is set in Waterville.
The area now known as Waterville was once inhabited by the Canibas tribe of Abenaki (Indigenous People). Called Taconnet after Chief Taconnet, the main village was located on the east bank of the Kennebec River at its confluence with the Sebasticook River at what is now Winslow. Known as Ticonic by English settlers, it was burned in 1692 during King William's War, after which the Canibas tribe abandoned the area. Fort Halifax was built by General John Winslow in 1754, and the last skirmish with Indigenous peoples occurred on May 18, 1757.
The township would be organized as Kingfield Plantation, then incorporated as Winslow in 1771. When residents on the west side of the Kennebec found themselves unable to cross the river to attend town meetings, Waterville was founded from the western parts of Winslow and incorporated on June 23, 1802. In 1824 a bridge was built joining the communities. Early industries included fishing, lumbering, agriculture and ship building, with larger boats launched in spring during freshets. By the early 1900s, there were five shipyards in the community.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Waterville ME
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Waterville residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Waterville ME.
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