How to Choose a Paralegal School near Mapleville Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Mapleville RI and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive 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 academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Mapleville residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both fill comparable 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 different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Mapleville RI with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Mapleville RI paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties 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 volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Mapleville RI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Rhode Island to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Mapleville RI.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those in Mapleville 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 benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Mapleville RI area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective 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 important issues to think about 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 considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Mapleville RI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Mapleville RI paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including 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 practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Mapleville RI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Mapleville RI local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Mapleville RI. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Mapleville RI, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Mapleville RI?
George W. Spaulding
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Training near Mapleville RI
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Mapleville home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Mapleville RI.
Other Cool Cities in Rhode Island
Business Results 1 - 10 of 64