How to Select a Paralegal Program near Frederica Delaware
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Frederica DE and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Frederica residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, 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 Frederica DE attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Frederica DE is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Delaware to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining 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 Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Frederica DE area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 already covered, there are other critical factors to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Frederica DE law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Frederica DE law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Frederica DE legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Delaware legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Delaware or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within the Frederica DE area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Frederica DE. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Frederica DE, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more popular and may be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least 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 considering are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Frederica DE?
If you live near Frederica DE 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.
Frederica is a town in Kent County, Delaware, United States. It is part of the Dover, Delaware Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 774 at the 2010 census.ILC Dover, the company which manufactured the spacesuits for the Apollo and Skylab astronauts of the 1960s and 1970s, along with fabricating the suit component of the Space Shuttle's Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), is located nearby.
The present-day town of Frederica was part of a land grant to Boneny Bishop by William Penn in 1681. The location at a bend along the Murderkill River was originally known as Indian Point and later became known as Johnny Cake Landing. The waterfront was surveyed in 1758 and the area where most shipping activity occurred became known as Goforth's Landing. The remainder of the town was surveyed and laid out by Jonathan Emerson in 1772. In 1796, the community was renamed from Johnny Cake Landing to Frederica Landing at the request of one of Emerson's daughters, as she believed the name Johnny Cake Landing was inappropriate for a settlement close to Barratt's Chapel, a major landmark for Methodism. The Town of Frederica was incorporated by the state in 1826. The incorporation act for Frederica was repealed in 1855, only for the town to be reincorporated in 1865.
Frederica was built along the Murderkill River at a point it was still navigable, 6 miles (9.7 km) from the Delaware Bay. The town was surrounded by wetlands, leading to the nickname "Frogtown" for the large number of frogs that live in the wetlands. Frederica developed as a shipping and shipbuilding center due to its location along the navigable Murderkill River; shipping and shipbuilding would dominate the town's economy for several decades. The town was linked by water to other Kent County towns along with the city of Philadelphia, and its fortunes depended on its water connections to these places as roads were often impassable at the time. Important cargo shipped along the Murderkill River in Frederica's early history included bacon, beef, corn, wheat flour, cedar shingles, cheese, butter, tar, pitch and hardwood boards.
Select the Best Paralegal Program near Frederica DE
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Frederica home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Frederica DE.
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