How to Select a Paralegal Program near Tilton New Hampshire
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Tilton NH and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Tilton homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Tilton NH attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. 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 they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Tilton NH is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in New Hampshire to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Tilton NH area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can 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 start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program 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 get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Tilton NH law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? 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 training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Tilton NH law offices that you may be interested 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 Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Tilton NH legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially 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 hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with New Hampshire legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in New Hampshire or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Tilton NH region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Tilton NH. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Tilton NH, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Tilton NH?
If you live near Tilton NH 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.
Tilton, New Hampshire
Tilton is a town on the Winnipesaukee River in Belknap County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 3,567 at the 2010 census. It includes the village of Lochmere. Tilton is home to the Tilton School, a private preparatory school.
Originally the southern part of Sanbornton, the present area of Tilton was known as Sanbornton Bridge and Bridge Village. These two names refer to the bridge, built in 1763, that crossed the Winnipesaukee River from Canterbury to Sanbornton and onto what is now Main Street in Tilton. In 1869, Sanbornton Bridge was set off and incorporated as Tilton, named in honor of Nathaniel Tilton, whose grandson Charles E. Tilton was the owner of textile mills and the community's wealthiest citizen. Nathaniel Tilton established an iron foundry and the area's first hotel, the Dexter House. Charles E. Tilton donated many statues to the town, a unique feature, and his estate is now part of the Tilton School. Tilton Hall, his former mansion built in 1861, houses the Lucian Hunt Library. The attached carriage house was renovated in 1980 to become the Helene Grant Daly Art Center.
Charles E. Tilton also donated what is perhaps the most notable landmark in the area, the hilltop Memorial Arch, located in the neighboring town of Northfield, across the Winnipesaukee River from the center of Tilton. The Roman arch replica was built in the late 1800s as a memorial to his ancestors. It is built of Concord granite, 50 feet (15 m) high and 40 feet (12 m) wide.
Find the Right Paralegal Program near Tilton NH
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed 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 Tilton home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Tilton NH.
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