How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Wayne New Jersey
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wayne NJ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Wayne homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, 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 lawyers in Wayne NJ with a wide variety 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 are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Wayne NJ paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Wayne NJ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New Jersey to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Wayne NJ.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for those in Wayne NJ searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Wayne NJ area schools. But because there are so many 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 evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Wayne NJ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Wayne NJ paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Wayne NJ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with New Jersey legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Wayne NJ local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Wayne NJ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times 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 Wayne NJ, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Wayne NJ?
Wayne, New Jersey
Wayne is a township in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States located less than 20 miles (32 km) from Midtown Manhattan, and is home to William Paterson University. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township had a total population of 54,717, reflecting an increase of 648 (+1.2%) from the 54,069 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 7,044 (+15.0%) from the 47,025 counted in the 1990 Census.
Wayne was formed as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 12, 1847, from portions of Manchester Township. Totowa was formed from portions of Wayne and Manchester Township on March 15, 1898.
In 1694, Arent Schuyler, a surveyor, trader and land speculator, was sent by the British into northwestern New Jersey to investigate rumors that the French were trying to incite the local Lenape Native Americans to rebel against them. He found no evidence of a rebellion, but discovered a fertile river valley where the Lenape grew crops. Schuyler reported his findings to the British and then convinced a group including Major Anthony Brockholst and Samuel Bayard to invest in the land he referred to as the Pompton Valley. The group chose Schuyler to be the negotiator with the Lenape and Bayard to negotiate with the East Jersey Company, the owner of the land rights from the King of England. The group completed their purchase of 5,000 acres (20 km2) on November 11, 1695, and the area became part of what was then known as New Barbadoes Township in Bergen County. Schuyler constructed the Schuyler-Colfax House at this time.
In 1710, the area became part of Saddle River Township. During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington made his headquarters at the Dey Mansion, first in July 1780, and again in October and November 1780. Alexander Hamilton, Washington's aide-de-camp, stayed at the house with him. Troops and generals were spread throughout the area during encampments, including the township's namesake Anthony Wayne and the Marquis de Lafayette, who made his headquarters at the nearby Van Saun House. Near the end of the war, Arent Schuyler's granddaughter Hester Schuyler married William Colfax, a member of Washington's Life Guard, and they lived together at the Schuyler-Colfax House.
Choose the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Wayne NJ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Wayne home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Wayne NJ.
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