How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Wharton New Jersey
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wharton NJ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Wharton residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered as well. Later 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 every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options 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. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Wharton NJ with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help 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 lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Wharton NJ paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Wharton NJ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in New Jersey to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Wharton NJ.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for those in Wharton NJ looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Wharton NJ area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive 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 receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Wharton NJ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Wharton NJ paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Wharton NJ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with New Jersey legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within your Wharton NJ local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Wharton NJ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wharton NJ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Wharton NJ?
Wharton, New Jersey
Wharton is a borough in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 6,522, reflecting an increase of 224 (+3.6%) from the 6,298 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 893 (+16.5%) from the 5,405 counted in the 1990 Census.
Wharton was originally incorporated as the borough Port Oram by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on June 26, 1895, created from portions of Randolph Township and Rockaway Township, subject to the results of a referendum passed on the previous day; the name was changed to Wharton on April 16, 1902, based on a referendum held that day and subject to legislation passed on March 27, 1902. The borough was named for Joseph Wharton of the Wharton Steel Company.
In 1831, the Morris Canal was completed from Newark to Phillipsburg, New Jersey across the Delaware River from the terminus of the Lehigh Canal. On the way, it passed through Boonton, Dover and Port Oram. On this route it tapped the Morris County ore fields and became a carrier for both ore and pig iron. Its main purpose, however, was as an extension of the Lehigh Canal to furnish a route for anthracite coal from the Pennsylvania mines to seaboard. Any local traffic was a gain to supplement the through anthracite freight and iron ore and its products soon became important sources of revenue. Sites on the canal were selected for docks and industry, including iron works.
On June 28, 1895, voters from the settlements Port Oram, Irondale, Luxemburg, Maryville and Mount Pleasant voted 143 to 51 to incorporate as the borough Port Oram, the largest of the communities in the area covering 2.25 square miles (5.8 km2) west of Dover, New Jersey. A mayor, six councilmen, an assessor and a collector were elected to govern the new borough which had started life as an ore shipping port on the Morris Canal. These elected officials (mine superintendents, store owners, a railroad superintendent and a school teacher) represented the leaders of these settlements where iron ore was mined, smelted and shipped.
Select the Best Paralegal School near Wharton NJ
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Wharton home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community 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 opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Wharton NJ.
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