How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Woodsboro Maryland
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Woodsboro MD and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Woodsboro homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account as well. Later 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 prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Woodsboro MD attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse 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 laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Woodsboro MD is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Maryland to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Woodsboro MD area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized 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 certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Woodsboro MD law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Woodsboro MD law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Woodsboro MD legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Maryland legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Maryland or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Woodsboro MD region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount 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 accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Woodsboro MD. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Woodsboro MD, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address 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 sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Woodsboro MD?
If you live near Woodsboro MD 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.
In 1895, Dr. George F. Smith founded Rosebud Perfume Company in Woodsboro. Smith had eight children, and served as mayor of the town for 19 years. The business has remained in the family, and as of 2012, was still producing its famous "Smith's Rosebud Salve," a lip gloss and salve originally known as tholene. The products are shipped from company headquarters in Woodsboro; however, "the salve is manufactured and filled at Case Mason in Joppa, Md., and the tins are made in Baltimore."
Unlike most cities, the executive officer of Woodsboro, Maryland is called a burgess. The current executive officer of Woodsboro is Burgess Gary Smith. Donald Trimmer, the previous burgess, stepped down in May 2009 after 16 years of serving in that post. The first Burgess of Woodsboro was Dr. George F. Smith.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,141 people, 423 households, and 306 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,607.0 inhabitants per square mile (620.5/km2). There were 443 housing units at an average density of 623.9 per square mile (240.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 91.9% White, 3.7% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 1.1% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.0% of the population.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Woodsboro MD
Enrolling in the best paralegal training 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 choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Woodsboro residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Woodsboro MD.
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