How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Whitefield New Hampshire
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Whitefield NH and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Whitefield residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, 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 basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Whitefield NH with a diverse array of job functions, 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 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, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their routine activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Whitefield NH paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, 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 limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Whitefield NH as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in New Hampshire to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Whitefield NH.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Whitefield NH looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Whitefield NH area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already 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 several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Whitefield NH law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Whitefield NH paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Whitefield NH legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with New Hampshire legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Whitefield NH local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Whitefield NH. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Whitefield NH, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Whitefield NH?
Whitefield, New Hampshire
Whitefield is a town in Coos County, New Hampshire, United States, in the White Mountains Region. The population was 2,306 at the 2010 census. Situated on the northern edge of the White Mountains, Whitefield is home to the Mount Washington Regional Airport and the White Mountains Regional High School.
Whitefield is part of the Berlin, NH–VT Micropolitan Statistical Area. The central village in the town, where 1,142 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the Whitefield census-designated place (CDP) and is located at the junction of U.S. Route 3, New Hampshire Route 116 and NH Route 142.
The last town to be granted under the English provincial government, Whitefield was chartered on July 4, 1774, exactly two years before adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Some believe it was named for George Whitefield, a famous English evangelist, and a friend of William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, the patron of Dartmouth College. Others believe the name originated from earlier references to the snowy white fields one would see upon approach through any of the surrounding mountain passages. The chartered name was "Whitefields", but the "s" was dropped on December 1, 1804—the date of incorporation. Early grantees included Jeremy Belknap, historian, and John Langdon, who succeeded John Wentworth as governor.
With the entrance of the railroad in the 19th century, tourists discovered the town and its cool, clean mountain air. They sought relief from the heat, humidity and pollution of coal-era summers in Boston, Hartford, New York and Philadelphia. Several inns and hotels were built to accommodate their increasing numbers. On a hilltop facing the Presidential Range is the grandest, The Mountain View House (now called the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa), established in 1866. The historic hotel underwent an extensive renovation in the 2000s, and is now one of the most luxurious in New Hampshire.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Training near Whitefield NH
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational 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 at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Whitefield home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed 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 have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Whitefield NH.
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