How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Ripley West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Ripley WV and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Ripley residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at 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, only with different titles. However, 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 attorneys in Ripley WV with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Ripley WV paralegal can be involved and rather 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 paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Ripley WV as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be earned at many 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 acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in West Virginia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Ripley WV.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students in Ripley WV looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Ripley WV area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, including 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 ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Ripley WV law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Ripley WV paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Ripley WV legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea 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 neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within your Ripley WV local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include 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 be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Ripley WV. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Ripley WV, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Ripley WV?
Ripley, West Virginia
Ripley was originally owned and settled by William, John, and Lewis Rodgers. They received a grant of 400 acres (1.6 km2) in 1768 where "Sycamore Creek joins Big Mill Creek" (the current site of Ripley). The land was later sold to Jacob (and Ann) Starcher, most probably in 1803. Jacob Starcher erected a grist mill in 1824 and laid out the town in 1830, naming it in honor of Harry Ripley, a young minister who was to be married, but drowned in Big Mill Creek, about one and a half miles north of the town, shortly before the ceremony took place.
When Jackson County was formed in 1831, the residents of the county could not decide where to locate the county seat. The people who lived along the Ohio River near the Ravenswood settlement favored that location. The people who lived farther inland objected. The Virginia General Assembly appointed an independent commission to make the final decision which selected Ripley. In 1832, the Starchers donated 8 acres (32,000 m2) of land to the county, 2 acres (8,100 m2) for the location of the county courthouse and jail, and six for the general use of the new county (a public school and a cemetery were later located on the land). The town was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1832.
The last public hanging in West Virginia took place in Ripley in 1897, when John Morgan was hanged for murder; the spectacle prompted the West Virginia Legislature to ban public executions soon after.
In 1990, the Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation locked out its 1,700 workers, most living in Ravenswood, at least a third had lived in Ripley at the time. The workers went on strike and eventually were let back in 1993.
Find the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Ripley WV
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Ripley home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Ripley WV.
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