How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Lincoln Rhode Island
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lincoln RI and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic 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 trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Lincoln residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available 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, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Lincoln RI with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Lincoln RI paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically 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 quickest way to start your career in Lincoln RI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may 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 an option as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Rhode Island to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Lincoln RI.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for students in Lincoln RI searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may 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 obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Lincoln RI area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know 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 searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several 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 selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School 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 school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Lincoln RI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Lincoln RI paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent 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 some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Lincoln RI legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Lincoln RI local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Lincoln RI. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Lincoln RI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Lincoln RI?
Lincoln, Rhode Island
Lincoln is a town in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 21,105 at the 2010 census. Lincoln is located in northeastern Rhode Island, north of Providence. Lincoln is part of the Providence metropoliton statistical area and the Greater Boston combined statistical area.
Limestone quarrying has occurred there since colonial times at the village of Lime Rock. Lincoln was a part of the town of Smithfield until 1871, when it was split off and named in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln became an important mill town in the late 19th century, with many textile factories running along the Blackstone River. Lincoln's villages include Manville, Albion, Lime Rock, Londsdale, Fairlawn, Quinnville, and Saylesville.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.9 square miles (49 km2), of which, 18.2 square miles (47 km2) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) of it (3.80%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,898 people, 8,243 households, and 5,778 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,146.6 people per square mile (442.6/km²). There were 8,508 housing units at an average density of 466.8 per square mile (180.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.55% White, 0.84% African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.75% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.64% of the population. There were 8,243 households out of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.8% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.9% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.05.
Select the Ideal Paralegal School near Lincoln RI
Selecting the best paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Lincoln home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Lincoln RI.
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