How to Choose a Paralegal School near Tellico Plains Tennessee
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Tellico Plains TN and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Tellico Plains residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take 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 basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Tellico Plains TN lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Tellico Plains TN is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After 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 Tennessee to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Tellico Plains TN area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most 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 issues to think about as well, including 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 investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Tellico Plains TN law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Tellico Plains TN law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Tellico Plains TN legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging 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 indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Tennessee legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Tennessee or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within the Tellico Plains TN region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Tellico Plains TN. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Tellico Plains TN, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Tellico Plains TN?
If you live near Tellico Plains TN 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.
Tellico Plains, Tennessee
The area along the Tellico River was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. The historic Muscogee settled here, before moving further south. In the late 18th century, the Cherokee settled in this area, displaced from the east and north by European colonial encroachment.
Tellico Plains occupies the former site of the Cherokee town of Great Tellico, which was one of the more important towns of the Overhill Cherokee during the late 18th century and before Indian Removal of the 1830s. Two important Native American trails met at Great Tellico, the Trading Path and the Warrior Path, which connected farflung communities.
European Americans moved into the area and developed the land for agriculture, chiefly subsistence farming. During the 1840s, Elisha Johnson, a former mayor of Rochester, New York, purchased a plantation here and built the Tellico River Mansion on his property. With his brother Ebenezer, the former mayor of Buffalo, New York, he purchased the Tellico Iron and Manufacturing Company.
Enroll in the Best Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Tellico Plains TN
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Tellico Plains residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Tellico Plains TN.
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