How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Traverse City Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Traverse City MI and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Traverse City residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Traverse City MI with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific 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 could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work 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 abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- 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 responsibilities, the role of a Traverse City MI paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Traverse City MI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Michigan to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Traverse City MI.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Traverse City MI searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Traverse City MI area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree 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 previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, such as 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 effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Traverse City MI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Traverse City MI paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, 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, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Traverse City MI legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Michigan legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your Traverse City MI local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Traverse City MI. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Traverse City MI, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Traverse City MI?
Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City (/ˈtrævərs ˈsɪti/ or locally /ˈtrævər.sɪti/) is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Grand Traverse County, although a small portion extends into Leelanau County. It is the largest city in the 21-county Northern Michigan region. The population was 14,674 at the 2010 census, with 143,372 in the Traverse City micropolitan area.
The Traverse City area is the largest producer of tart cherries in the United States. Near the time of cherry harvest, the city hosts the annual week-long National Cherry Festival in the first full week of July, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually. The surrounding countryside also produces grapes, and is one of the centers of wine production in the Midwest.Tourism, both summer and winter, is another key industry. The Traverse City area features varied natural attractions, including freshwater beaches, vineyards, a National Lakeshore, downhill skiing areas, and numerous forests. In 2009, TripAdvisor named Traverse City the number two small town travel destination in the United States. In 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S., by U.S. News.
Before European colonists and the Northwest Territory, Traverse City was occupied by the Ojibwe and Ottawa people. Many locations in the Michigan area used to have native names. Traverse City was called "wequetong" which means "at the head of the bay" This area was an Indian camp near what is now Clinch Park in downtown Traverse City. Over time, this camp was slowly abandoned.
After the colonists came in, they discovered the Grand Traverse Bay. The bay earned its name from 18th-century French voyageurs who made la grande traverse,[a] or "the long crossing", across the mouth of bay. The area was owned by the French, followed by Great Britain as the Province of Quebec. After 1776, the area was owned by the Americans. On Old Mission peninsula, Rev Peter Doughtery started the first permanent settlement in 1839. This was called "Grand Traverse"
Select the Best Paralegal Program near Traverse City MI
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Traverse City residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, 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 profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Traverse City MI.
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