How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Washington New Jersey
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Washington NJ and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get 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 a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Washington homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are 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 account too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have 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 for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Washington NJ with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, 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 practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Washington NJ paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
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 quickest way to begin your career in Washington NJ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New Jersey to practice as a paralegal, certification can 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits 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 Washington NJ.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for individuals in Washington NJ looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Washington NJ area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Washington 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 accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Washington NJ paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program 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 offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Washington NJ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with New Jersey legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Washington NJ local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Washington NJ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Washington NJ, 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 choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Washington NJ?
Washington, New Jersey
Washington is a borough in Warren County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 6,461, reflecting a decline of 251 (-3.7%) from the 6,712 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 238 (+3.7%) from the 6,474 counted in the 1990 Census. The borough is located in the eastern most region of the Lehigh Valley.
Washington was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 20, 1868, from portions of Washington Township. The borough was named for George Washington, one of more than ten communities statewide named for the first president. The Borough of Washington is surrounded by Washington Township, which is one of five municipalities in the state of New Jersey with the name "Washington Township".
Washington Borough separated from Washington Township as of February 20, 1868. The community grew during the 19th century as a result of the transportation routes that ran through or near the borough. The Morris Canal ran along the north end of town and two rail lines of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad crossed within the borough. Intersecting in the center of the borough are two major roadways, which today are Route 31 and Route 57. The borough was ultimately named for the "Washington House", a tavern built by Revolutionary War Col. William McCullough in 1811 that was later destroyed by fire in 1869.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the borough became a mecca of musical instruments manufacturers, the manufacture of organs in particular. A bustling downtown developed around these businesses. Many of the Victorian style houses in the borough, as well as Taylor Street School and Warren Hills Middle School (formerly Washington High School) were built during this period.
Choose the Best Paralegal College near Washington NJ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Washington home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Washington NJ.
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