How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Three Rivers Michigan
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Three Rivers MI and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Three Rivers homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account too. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational 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 functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Three Rivers 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 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 transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Three Rivers MI paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 launch your career in Three Rivers MI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can 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 an option also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Michigan to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Three Rivers MI.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for individuals in Three Rivers MI looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Three Rivers MI area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization 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 distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Three Rivers MI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Three Rivers MI paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Three Rivers MI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Michigan legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? 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 work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within your Three Rivers MI local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost 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 accessible 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 Three Rivers MI. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Three Rivers MI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Three Rivers MI?
Three Rivers, Michigan
Three Rivers derives its name from the confluence of the St. Joseph River with its tributaries the Rocky and Portage Rivers. It is the home of St. Gregory's Abbey, a Benedictine monastery of the Episcopal Church that was established in 1946.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.66 square miles (14.66 km2), of which 5.40 square miles (13.99 km2) is land and 0.26 square miles (0.67 km2) is water.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $32,460, and the median income for a family was $36,272. Males had a median income of $31,849 versus $23,659 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,279. About 16.2% of families and 19.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.5% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,811 people. The 49093 Three Rivers zip code population as of 2010 stands at just shy of 20,000 people 3,048 households, and 1,862 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,446.5 inhabitants per square mile (558.5/km2). There were 3,519 housing units at an average density of 651.7 per square mile (251.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.6% White, 10.1% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 1.8% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.2% of the population.
Select the Best Paralegal College near Three Rivers MI
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Three Rivers home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Three Rivers MI.
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