How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Princeton West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Princeton WV and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive 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 increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Princeton residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 essentially both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Princeton WV with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Princeton WV paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably 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 start your career in Princeton WV as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in West Virginia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Princeton WV.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Princeton WV searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items 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 certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Princeton WV area schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to consider 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 schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Princeton WV law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Princeton WV paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Princeton WV legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those schools that are within your Princeton WV local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Princeton WV. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Princeton WV, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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 obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Princeton WV?
Princeton, West Virginia
Princeton, often referred to as the "Jewel of the South," is a city in and the county seat of Mercer County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 6,432 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Bluefield, WV-VA micropolitan area which has a population of 107,342. The town hosts the Princeton Rays baseball club of the Appalachian League.
In southern West Virginia, in the late 19th century, coal mining and transportation by the emerging technology of the railroads combined to form a new industry. Much of the region's bituminous coal was sent northwest to the Great Lakes, or northeast to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's coal piers at Baltimore, or to the world's greatest ice-free port of Hampton Roads in eastern Virginia.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's coal piers were located at Newport News. Across the harbor, the Norfolk and Western Railway's coal piers were located on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk. The eastern-bound coal transported by the C&O and the N&W railroads was highly valued for local use and for steam-powered ships, notably those of the U.S. Navy. Loaded into large ships called colliers, the West Virginia "smokeless coal" was sent in coast-wise shipping to the Northeastern U.S. points such as New York City and New England, as well as exported to other countries worldwide.
Princeton's location was east of the primary coalfields, and most of the coal mining and railroad activity was initially elsewhere. However, a combination of factors would soon change that, and have profound financial and developmental impact on Princeton.
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Princeton WV
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Princeton residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available 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 profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Princeton WV.
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