How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Somerset Colorado
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Somerset CO and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Somerset residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find 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 such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Somerset CO lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Somerset CO is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Colorado to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Somerset CO area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, such as 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 investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Somerset CO law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Somerset CO law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Somerset CO legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Colorado legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Colorado or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those colleges that are within the Somerset CO region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Somerset CO. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Somerset CO, 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 provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Somerset CO?
If you live near Somerset CO or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Somerset (/ˈsʌmərsɛt/ ( listen)) (or archaically, Somersetshire) is a county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east and Devon to the south-west. It is bounded to the north and west by the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel, its coastline facing southeastern Wales. Its traditional border with Gloucestershire is the River Avon. Somerset's county town is Taunton.
Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Blackdown Hills, Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels. There is evidence of human occupation from Paleolithic times, and of subsequent settlement in the Celtic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The county played a significant part in the consolidation of power and rise of King Alfred the Great, and later in the English Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion. The city of Bath is famous for its substantial Georgian architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Somerset's name derives from Old English Sumorsǣte, short for Sumortūnsǣte, meaning "the people living at or dependent on Sumortūn (Somerton)". The first known use of Somersæte is in the law code of King Ine who was the Saxon King of Wessex from 688 to 726, making Somerset along with Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset one of the oldest extant units of local government in the world. An alternative suggestion is the name derives from Seo-mere-saetan meaning "settlers by the sea lakes".
Select the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Somerset CO
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered 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 Somerset residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Somerset CO.
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