How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Warrenton North Carolina
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Warrenton NC and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Warrenton residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options 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 roles and responsibilities, just 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 help attorneys in Warrenton NC with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Warrenton NC paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Warrenton NC as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in North Carolina to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Warrenton NC.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and may be an excellent option for those in Warrenton NC looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can 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 thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Warrenton NC area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Warrenton NC law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Warrenton NC paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking 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 some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Warrenton NC legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with North Carolina legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Warrenton NC local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Warrenton NC. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Warrenton NC, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Warrenton NC?
Warrenton, North Carolina
Warrenton is a town in and the county seat of Warren County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 862 at the 2010 census. Warrenton, now served by U.S. 401 and U.S. 158, was founded in 1779. It became one of the wealthiest towns in the state from 1840 to 1860, as it was the trading center of an area of rich tobacco and cotton plantations. It has a large stock of historic architecture. More than 90 percent of its buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and its National Historic District encompasses nearly half its area.
Warrenton was founded at the time when Bute County was divided to form Warren and Franklin counties. Named for Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot and soldier who fell at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolutionary War, it was incorporated in 1779. William Christmas platted and surveyed the streets and lots, and public squares that year. He established one hundred lots of one-half acre each, convenient streets and squares, and a common area for the use of the town.
The area was developed as tobacco and cotton plantations dependent on the labor of enslaved African Americans. Warrenton served as a center for trade and entertainment for the region's planters and their slaves. The planters and merchants built large homes in the town, and kept slaves as domestic servants. The majority of slaves worked as laborers on the plantations; some would package and transport the tobacco and cotton to town for shipping out to markets.
Many early and mid-19th century houses have been preserved. The planters chartered private academies to educate their children, one of the earliest being The Warrenton Male Academy, formed in 1788. A girls' school was founded by Jacob Mordecai, a Sephardic Jew, whose son Moses became a prominent lawyer in Raleigh. Commercial and government structures in the town date to the late 19th century and early 1900s.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Program near Warrenton NC
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Warrenton home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Warrenton NC.
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