How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Waterboro Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Waterboro ME and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Waterboro homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. 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 selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at 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 for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Waterboro ME with a wide variety 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 work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Waterboro ME paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Waterboro ME as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Maine to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Waterboro ME.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for students in Waterboro ME searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Waterboro ME area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community 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 include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Waterboro ME law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Waterboro ME paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Waterboro ME legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 Maine legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Waterboro ME local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ 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 supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Waterboro ME. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Waterboro ME, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Waterboro ME?
The town includes the districts of North (04061), South (04087), and East (04030) Waterboro, in addition to the largest development in southern Maine, Lake Arrowhead Community. The introduction of Maine subdivision regulation, and Maine Planning Boards, is the direct result of the creation of the largest subdivision, Lake Arrowhead Community. The reaction of the Maine State Legislature was mandatory Planning Boards, and subdivision regulation.
Abenaki Indians called the area Massabesic, meaning "the place of much water", a reference to the region's lakes. It was part of an extensive tract of land purchased in 1661 by Major William Phillips of Saco from Chief Fluellin. Known as Massabesic Plantation, it included most of modern-day Waterboro, Alfred and Sanford. Phillips died in 1683, and the plantation eventually passed from his heirs to 10 proprietors. One of those proprietors was Colonel Joshua Waters, for whom the town would be named.
Lumbering began to thrive there about 1764. Captain John Smith from Kittery was the first permanent settler, arriving in 1768. On March 6, 1787, the Massachusetts General Court incorporated the township as Waterborough. In 1790, Old Corners became the site of the Court of General Sessions, although in 1805 the county seat shifted to Alfred. In 1895, the name was shortened to Waterboro.
With land particularly suited for livestock grazing, agriculture became a principal industry. The town had many cattle and dairy farms. The Portland and Rochester Railroad passed through Waterboro and connected to Rochester, New Hampshire in 1871, helping spur development. Rivers and brooks provided water power to operate mills. Several sawmills were established, and by 1886 the town produced about 1,800,000 feet (550,000 m) of lumber annually. Other businesses included the Ossipee Manufacturing Company at the Little Ossipee River, which made blankets, and the Steam Mill Company at South Waterboro, which made wooden boxes. In 1922, the Goodall-Sanford Mills built in Waterboro village a spinning mill, taken over by a patent leather manufacturer that operated from 1939 to 1982.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Waterboro ME
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Waterboro home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Waterboro ME.
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