How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Silver City New Mexico
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Silver City NM and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Silver City homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Silver City NM with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help 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 just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Silver City NM paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined 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 because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Silver City NM as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New Mexico to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Silver City NM.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for those in Silver City NM searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least 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 thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Silver City NM area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know 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 looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Silver City NM law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Silver City NM paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Silver City NM legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with New Mexico legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Silver City NM local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Silver City NM. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Silver City NM, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Silver City NM?
Silver City, New Mexico
Silver City is a town in Grant County, New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat and the home of Western New Mexico University. As of the 2010 census the population was 10,315. In 2015 the population was estimated to be 10,004.
The valley that is now the site of Silver City once served as an Apache campsite. With the arrival of the Spaniards, the area became known for its copper mining. After the American Civil War, a settlement developed and became known as "La Ciénega de San Vicente" (the Oasis of St. Vincent). With a wave of American prospectors, the pace of change increased, and Silver City was founded in the summer of 1870. The founding of the town occurred shortly after the discovery of silver ore deposits at Chloride Flat, on the hill just west of the farm of Captain John M. Bullard and his brother James. Following the silver strike, Captain Bullard laid out the streets of Silver City, and a bustling tent city quickly sprang to life. Although the trajectory of Silver City's development was to be different from the hundreds of other mining boom towns established during the same period, Captain Bullard himself never lived to see even the beginnings of permanence, as he was killed in a confrontation with Apache raiders less than a year later, on February 23, 1871.
The town's violent crime rate was substantial during the 1870s. However, Grant County Sheriff Harvey Whitehill was elected in 1874, and gained a sizable reputation for his abilities at controlling trouble. In 1875, Whitehill became the first lawman to arrest Billy the Kid, known at the time under the alias of Henry Antrim. Whitehill arrested him twice, both times for theft in Silver City (Sheriff Whitehill testified to the Justice of the Peace that he believed Henry Antrim did not do the actual stealing the second time arrested, but assisted in the hiding of the property stolen by Sombrero Jack. Whitehill would later claim that the young man was a likeable kid, whose stealing was a result more of necessity than criminality. His mother is buried in the town cemetery. In 1878, the town hired its first town marshal, "Dangerous Dan" Tucker, who had been working as a deputy for Whitehill since 1875. Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch were also reported to frequent the Silver City saloons in the late 1800s.
Mrs. Lettie B. Morrill, in a talk given to the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Silver City on September 19, 1908, stated, "John Bullard was placed in the first grave dug in Silver City, having been killed while punishing the Indians for an attack upon the new town; the brothers were prospectors about the country for many years. The last one left for the old home about 1885, saying, 'It is only a matter of time until the Indians get me if I stay here.'" Silver City was also the starting point for many expeditions hunting treasures, such as the Lost Adams Diggings.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Silver City NM
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Silver City home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Silver City NM.
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