How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Salt Lake City Utah
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Salt Lake City UT and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Salt Lake City homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 basically both fill the same job roles and functions, 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 help lawyers in Salt Lake City UT with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Salt Lake City UT paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Salt Lake City UT as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Utah to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Salt Lake City UT.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Salt Lake City UT looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing Salt Lake City UT area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Salt Lake City UT law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Salt Lake City UT paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special 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 program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Salt Lake City UT legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Utah legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish 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 want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Salt Lake City UT local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Salt Lake City UT. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Salt Lake City UT, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Salt Lake City UT?
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City (often shortened to Salt Lake and abbreviated as SLC) is the capital and the most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Utah. With an estimated population of 190,884 in 2014, the city is the core of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which has a population of 1,153,340 (2014 estimate). Salt Lake City is further situated within a larger metropolis known as the Salt Lake City–Ogden–Provo Combined Statistical Area. This region is a corridor of contiguous urban and suburban development stretched along an approximately 120-mile (190 km) segment of the Wasatch Front, comprising a population of 2,423,912 as of 2014[update]. It is one of only two major urban areas in the Great Basin (the other is Reno, Nevada).
The world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is located in Salt Lake City and the city's street grid system is based on the temple constructed by the Church at its center. The city was originally founded in 1847 by Brigham Young, and other followers of the Church, who were seeking to escape religious persecution in the mid-western United States. These Mormon pioneers, as they would come to be known, at first encountered an arid, inhospitable valley that they then extensively irrigated and cultivated, thereby establishing the foundation to sustain the area's large population of today.
Due to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the city was originally named "Great Salt Lake City"; however, the word "great" was dropped from the official name in 1868 by the 17th Utah Territorial Legislature.
Immigration of international LDS members, mining booms, and the construction of the first transcontinental railroad initially brought economic growth, and the city was nicknamed the Crossroads of the West. It was traversed by the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway, in 1913, and presently two major cross-country freeways, I-15 and I-80, intersect in the city. Salt Lake City has since developed a strong outdoor recreation tourist industry based primarily on skiing, and hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. It is the industrial banking center of the United States.
Select the Right Paralegal Training near Salt Lake City UT
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed 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 Salt Lake City home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Salt Lake City UT.
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