How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Stroud Oklahoma
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Stroud OK and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Stroud homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Stroud OK with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Stroud OK paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited 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, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Stroud OK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Oklahoma to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Stroud OK.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be a good option for those in Stroud OK looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Stroud OK area schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation 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 effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Stroud OK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Stroud OK paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school 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 determine 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 what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Stroud OK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly 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 graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult 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 sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Oklahoma legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Stroud OK local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Stroud OK. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Stroud OK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Stroud OK?
Stroud was founded in 1892 and named for James Wrexel Stroud, a developer. Early in its history, Stroud had a reputation as a "wild" town due to its many saloons and other businesses catering to thirsty cowboys and travelers arriving from "dry" Indian Territory. These days were short-lived, however, because Oklahoma statehood forced Stroud to become "dry" as well.
On March 27, 1915 Stroud became the victim of a legendary outlaw: "Henry Starr, along with six other men, decided to rob two banks at the same time... The [Stroud] robbery would prove... disastrous for Henry Starr. Proceeding to rob the Stroud National Bank and the First National Bank, word of the holdup spread quickly and the citizens took up arms against the bandits. Henry and another outlaw named Lewis Estes were wounded and captured in the gun battle. The rest of the gang escaped with $5815...". Henry was sentenced to prison at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, but was paroled after serving only four years.
The town became quiet until about 1926 when U.S. Route 66 was built. When construction of the highway was completed, Stroud became a rest stop with amenities such as motels, gas stations and restaurants. The Rock Café, built during the Great Depression using local sandstone removed during the construction of Route 66, operated 24 hours a day during its 1950s heyday. Business diminished after the Turner Turnpike diverted cross-country traffic from the town's main street.
Stroud was devastated by the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak, which destroyed the town's 53-store Tanger Outlet Center, as well as a distribution center owned by foodservice company Sygma. Neither of these facilities were rebuilt; the resulting loss of 800 jobs caused a significant amount of economic distress to the town.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Stroud OK
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward 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 participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Stroud home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Stroud OK.
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