How to Choose a Paralegal College near Willow Grove Pennsylvania
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Willow Grove PA and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Willow Grove homes. Of those options, they look for 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 should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives 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 roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Willow Grove PA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Willow Grove PA paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Willow Grove PA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Pennsylvania to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Willow Grove PA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Willow Grove PA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Willow Grove PA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Willow Grove PA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Willow Grove PA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Willow Grove PA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Pennsylvania legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those schools that are within your Willow Grove PA local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Willow Grove PA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Willow Grove PA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Willow Grove PA?
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Willow Grove is a census-designated place (CDP) in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. A community in Philadelphia's northern suburbs, the population was 15,726 at the 2010 census. It is located in Upper Dublin Township, Abington Township and Upper Moreland Township. Willow Grove was once known for Willow Grove Park, an amusement park that was open from 1896 to 1976, now the site of Willow Grove Park Mall. Willow Grove is considered an edge city of Philadelphia with large amounts of retail and office space.
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove was located northwest of the Willow Grove CDP in Horsham Township. NAS JRB Willow Grove transitioned into Horsham Air National Guard Station in September 2011.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2), of which 0.28% is water. It has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) and its hardiness zone is 7a.
As of the 2010 census, the CDP was 81.4% White, 8.2% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 4.9% Asian, 1.1% were Some Other Race, and 2.3% were two or more races. 3.5% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Willow Grove PA
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying 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 Willow Grove home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Willow Grove PA.
Other Cool Cities in Pennsylvania
Business Results 1 - 10 of 169