How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Stringtown Oklahoma
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Stringtown OK and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Stringtown residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices 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 responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Stringtown OK with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys 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 Stringtown OK paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because 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 Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Stringtown OK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Oklahoma to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Stringtown OK.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Stringtown OK looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Stringtown OK area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable 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 online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Stringtown OK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Stringtown OK paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Stringtown OK legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Oklahoma legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Stringtown OK local region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Stringtown OK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Stringtown OK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Stringtown OK?
Stringtown is a town in Atoka County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 410 at the 2010 census, an increase of 3.5 percent from 396 at the 2000 census. It is the second largest town in Atoka County.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12.2 km2), of which 4.7 square miles (12.1 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 1.24%, is water.
Originally named Springtown, for the natural springs that flow out of the hills the town is built upon, the current name is believed to be a corruption. Once home to a bank, theater and pub, the town has declined over the years, both economically and in population. In the past five years, small population growth and the addition of a new cafe have brought new life to the town. Annually in September, the Good Ole Days Festival celebrates the town's past with parade, cookout, and concert.
On August 5, 1932, while Bonnie Parker was visiting her mother, Clyde Barrow and two associates were drinking alcohol at a dance in Stringtown (illegal under Prohibition). When they were approached by Sheriff C. G. Maxwell and his deputy, Clyde opened fire, killing deputy Eugene C. Moore. That was the first killing of a lawman by what was later known as the Barrow Gang, a total which would eventually amount to nine slain officers.
Select the Ideal Paralegal College near Stringtown OK
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Stringtown residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Stringtown OK.
Other Cool Cities in Oklahoma