How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Narragansett Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Narragansett RI and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Narragansett homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only 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 assist attorneys in Narragansett RI with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial 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 attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Narragansett RI paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Narragansett RI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Rhode Island to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Narragansett RI.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students in Narragansett RI searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Narragansett RI area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization 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 distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Narragansett RI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Narragansett RI paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Narragansett RI legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within your Narragansett RI local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Narragansett RI. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Narragansett RI, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Narragansett RI?
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Narragansett is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 15,868 at the 2010 census. However, during the summer months the town's population more than doubles to near 34,000. The town is colloquially known as "Gansett". The town of Narragansett occupies a narrow strip of land running along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River to the shore of Narragansett Bay. It was separated from South Kingstown in 1888, and incorporated as a town in 1901.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 37.8 square miles (98 km2), of which, 14.1 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 23.6 square miles (61 km2) of it (62.56%) is water.
The following villages and neighborhoods are wholly or partially located in Narragansett: Saunderstown (shared with North Kingstown), South Ferry, Bonnet Shores, Narragansett Pier, Point Judith, Galilee, Great Island, Salt Pond, Mettatuxet, and Jerusalem (shared with South Kingstown).
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,361 people, 6,846 households, and 3,847 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,156.5 people per square mile (446.4/km²). There were 9,159 housing units at an average density of 647.4 per square mile (249.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.84% White, 0.75% African American, 0.90% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.25% of the population.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Program near Narragansett RI
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Narragansett home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Narragansett RI.
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