How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Sparrows Point Maryland
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Sparrows Point MD and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Sparrows Point residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. 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 roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Sparrows Point MD with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Sparrows Point MD paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Sparrows Point MD as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide 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 available as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Maryland to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Sparrows Point MD.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more common and may be a good alternative for those in Sparrows Point MD searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Sparrows Point MD area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn 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 as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Sparrows Point MD law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Sparrows Point MD paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may 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 enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Sparrows Point MD legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Maryland legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire 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 may want to initially consider those schools that are within your Sparrows Point MD local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, 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 also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Sparrows Point MD. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Sparrows Point MD, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Sparrows Point MD?
Sparrows Point, Maryland
Sparrow's Point is an unincorporated community in Baltimore County, Maryland, adjacent to Dundalk, Maryland. Named for Thomas Sparrow, landowner, it was the site of a very large industrial complex owned by Bethlehem Steel, known for steelmaking and shipbuilding.
Sparrow's Point was originally marshland home to Native American tribes until being granted to one Thomas Sparrow Jr. (1620 - 1674) by Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore in around 1652. His son Solomon Sparrow made a home there, calling it "Sparrow's Nest". Later in the 1700s the area became home to other families, who farmed and raised crops, building homes and hunting lodges. Among the many wealthy residents of Baltimore who owned property there was Major General George H. Steuart who hosted the social reformer Dorothea Dix at Sparrow's Point. By the 1860s much of the land, about 385 acres, was owned by the Fitzell family.
Sparrow's Point remained largely rural until 1887, when an engineer named Frederick Wood realized that the marshy inlet would make an excellent deep-water port for the Pennsylvania Steel Company. The Fitzells were reluctant to part with their peach orchards but were eventually persuaded to sell.
Steel was first made at Sparrow's Point in 1889, by the Maryland Steel Company, a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Steel Company. By the mid-20th century, the Sparrow's Point waterfront plant was the world's largest steel mill, stretching 4 miles (6.4 km) from end to end and employing tens of thousands of workers. It used the traditional open hearth steelmaking method to produce ingots, a labor- and energy-intensive process.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Sparrows Point MD
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Sparrows Point home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Sparrows Point MD.
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