How to Choose a Paralegal School near Twin Lake Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Twin Lake MI and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Twin Lake homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. 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 for the most part both hold the same 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 are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Twin Lake MI with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. 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 might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Twin Lake MI paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Twin Lake MI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Michigan to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Twin Lake MI.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be a good alternative for individuals in Twin Lake MI looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Twin Lake MI area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Twin Lake MI law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Twin Lake MI paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent 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 some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Twin Lake MI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Michigan legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your Twin Lake MI local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, 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 minimize part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Twin Lake MI. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Twin Lake MI, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Twin Lake MI?
Twin Lake, Michigan
Twin Lake is an unincorporated community in Muskegon County of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is a census-designated place (CDP) for statistical purposes. Local government services are provided by Dalton Township. As of the 2000 census, the community population was 1,613. It is the home of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Gerber Scout Reservation and Owasippe Scout Reservation.
The Twin Lake CDP includes only the areas surrounding the Twin Lakes and the nearby North Lake and West Lakes in the northeast corner of Dalton Township. The Twin Lake ZIP code 49457 serves a much larger area, including much of northern and eastern Dalton Township, most of Cedar Creek Township to the east, parts of northern Egelston Township and Muskegon Township to the south, much of Blue Lake Township to the north and the southwest corner of Holton Township.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the community has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), of which 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (17.93%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,613 people, 593 households, and 472 families residing in the community. The population density was 677.4 per square mile (261.7/km²). There were 688 housing units at an average density of 288.9 per square mile (111.6/km²). The racial makeup of the community was 95.47% White, 0.56% African American, 1.67% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.37% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.92% of the population.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Training near Twin Lake MI
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Twin Lake home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Twin Lake MI.
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