How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Union City Tennessee
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Union City TN and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Union City residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to 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 exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same 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 legal assistants and paralegals help Union City TN lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Union City TN is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Tennessee to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Union City TN area, as well as 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 degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School 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 school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Union City TN law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Union City TN law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Union City TN legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Tennessee legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Tennessee or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Union City TN region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Union City TN. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Union City TN, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more common and may be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum 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 looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Union City TN?
If you live near Union City 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.
Union City, Tennessee
Union City is a city located in Obion County, Tennessee, United States. The 2010 census reported the population of the town as 10,895. Union City is the principal city of the surrounding micropolitan area, which includes Obion County and Fulton County, Kentucky.
Union City is recognized for the following: It was the site of a minor American Civil War battle in March 1864, and it was the site of a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company/Goodyear Tire plant, which generated a large amount of the city's economy. It is also the hometown of both Congressman, John S. Tanner and Jerry L. Gurien, the inventor of stone washed jeans and Gurien Finishing Corp., which developed a process in the 1980s that stone-washed jeans and denims.
The Discovery Park of America serves as a major attraction in the state of Tennessee and is located within city limits. It was founded by Robert Kirkland and opened its doors in 2013. Union City is approximately 30–45 minutes from Reelfoot Lake. This well-known lake was formed from the 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes and is a popular recreational boating and fishing location in the state. Union City is also approximately 15–20 minutes from the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal School near Union City TN
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Union City home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade 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, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Union City TN.
Other Tennessee Locations That May Be Of Interest