How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Pickens South Carolina
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Pickens SC and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably 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 so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Pickens residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have 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 hold the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, 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 assist lawyers in Pickens SC with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- 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 Pickens SC paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Pickens SC 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 furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in South Carolina to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Pickens SC.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for individuals in Pickens SC searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Pickens SC area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective 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 crucial issues to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Pickens SC law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Pickens SC paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Pickens SC legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Pickens SC local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Pickens SC. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary 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 need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Pickens SC, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Pickens SC?
Pickens, South Carolina
Pickens, formerly called Pickens Courthouse, is a city in Pickens County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 3,126 at the 2010 census. Pickens changed its classification from a town to a city in 1998, but it was not reported to the Census Bureau until 2001. It is the county seat of Pickens County. It was named after Andrew Pickens (1739–1817), an American revolutionary soldier and US Congressman for South Carolina.
Present-day Pickens of Pickens County was previously Cherokee Territory. During the American Revolutionary War, the Cherokee sided with the Kingdom of Great Britain. When Great Britain was defeated in the war, the Cherokee were forced to surrender their land. In 1791, the state legislature established Washington District that comprises present-day Greenville, Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens County. In 1798 Washington District was divided into Greenville and Pendleton districts. The Pendleton district eventually became Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens County. Pendleton District was divided in 1828 into Anderson and Pickens. A courthouse was established on the banks of the Keowee River where the town of Pickens Court House was developed. The Hagood-Mauldin House was built circa 1856 and is one of the historic structures of Pickens County. In 1868, the Pickens District was divided for a final time, into Pickens and Oconee counties. Pickens Court House relocated to its present-day site and was renamed to Pickens.
The Pickens Railway was established in 1898 as a shortline railroad from Easley to Pickens. From 1955 until 1987, Sangamo-Weston Inc. operated a capacitor manufacturing facility just outside Pickens. Until they were banned in the US, Sangamo discharged a significant amount of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into a tributary of the Twelve Mile River which feeds Lake Hartwell. Sangamo also dumped contaminated waste in six locations in the vicinity of Pickens. In two of these locations, the waste was burned, forming more dangerous dioxins. According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, contamination was discovered at the "Breazeale site", southwest of town. Schlumberger paid $11.8 million to federal and state agencies for injuries to natural resources caused by the contamination.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town had a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.4 km²), of which 2.5 square miles (6.3 km²) is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km²) (0.81%) is water.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Training near Pickens SC
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Pickens home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Pickens SC.
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