How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Zanesville Ohio
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Zanesville OH and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their Zanesville homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential 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 educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Zanesville OH attorneys with a wide range of job duties, 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 are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers 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 discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Zanesville OH is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Ohio to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Zanesville OH area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out 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 the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive 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 standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Zanesville OH law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Zanesville OH law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. 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 Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Zanesville OH legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Ohio legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Ohio or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Zanesville OH area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Zanesville OH. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Zanesville OH, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Zanesville OH?
If you live near Zanesville OH 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.
Zanesville was named after Ebenezer Zane (1747–1811), who had constructed Zane's Trace, a pioneer road from Wheeling, Virginia (now in West Virginia) to Maysville, Kentucky through present-day Ohio. In 1797, he gave land as payment to his son-in-law, John McIntire (1759–1815), at the point where Zane's Trace met the Muskingum River. With Zane's help, McIntire platted the town and opened an inn and ferry by 1799. In 1801, Zanesville was officially renamed from Westbourne (Zane's chosen town name).
From 1810–1812, the city was the second state capital of Ohio. The National Road runs through Zanesville as U.S. Route 40. The city grew quickly in the 1820s–1850s. Over 5,000 Union soldiers, along with hundreds of townsfolk, were stationed in the Zanesville area to protect the city in 1863 during Morgan's Raid. Novelist Zane Grey, a descendant of the Zane family, was born in the city.
The city grew, with factories making pottery, bricks, glassware, ball-bearings, soap, steel and many others from the 1880s until the mid-1950s. The City had a booming downtown and growing in the northern area of the town. By the 1950s many factories closed or moved. Pottery, a major employer slowly lost out to cheaper Asian companies. From the 1950s till the 1980s the City lost about 1/3 of its population. By the 1990s the city/county opened industrial parks and several housing developments were built in the northern parts of the City. In 2017 a greatly enlarged hospital opened and the other city hospital was closed and torn down.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Training near Zanesville OH
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Zanesville home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. 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 degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Zanesville OH.
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