How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Windsor Locks Connecticut
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Windsor Locks CT and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Windsor Locks residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Windsor Locks CT attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level 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 can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Windsor Locks CT is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Connecticut to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Windsor Locks CT area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn 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 the majority of 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 research as well, 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 investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization 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 targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Windsor Locks CT law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Windsor Locks CT law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Windsor Locks CT legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Connecticut legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Connecticut or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain 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 might need to initially look at those colleges that are within the Windsor Locks CT region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Windsor Locks CT. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Windsor Locks CT, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Windsor Locks CT?
If you live near Windsor Locks CT 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.
Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Windsor Locks is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population was 12,498. It is the site of Bradley International Airport, which serves the Greater Hartford-Springfield region and occupies approximately 1/3 of the town. Windsor Locks is also the site of the New England Air Museum.
Located beside the Connecticut River and equidistant from the densely populated cities of Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut, Windsor Locks is named for a set of canal locks that opened in 1829. Windsor Locks is situated just south of the first large falls in the Connecticut River, the Enfield Falls, which is the northernmost point that seagoing vessels can reach on the Connecticut River before transferring to smaller ships. The Enfield Falls Canal circumvents the Enfield Falls and its nearby shallows.
Originally part of Windsor, Windsor Locks broke off into its own settlement in 1854 after the thriving Enfield Locks going around Enfield Falls which opened in 1829. The Bradley International Airport opened as a military base in 1940, and opened to civilian use in 1947. In 1967 the town boundary was somewhat altered due to the opening of the Bradley Connector. The town boundary between Windsor Locks and Windsor changed several times and was altered with Windsor Locks being on the westbound side and the Windsor side on the eastbound side with the border on the median.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant College near Windsor Locks CT
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Windsor Locks home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Windsor Locks CT.
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