How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Wayne West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wayne WV and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for schools within driving range of their Wayne residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Wayne WV lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they 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 are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Wayne WV is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in West Virginia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Wayne WV area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to research also, such as 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Wayne WV law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Wayne WV law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Wayne WV legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with West Virginia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in West Virginia or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary 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 choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Wayne WV region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Wayne WV. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Wayne WV, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wayne WV?
If you live near Wayne WV 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.
Wayne, West Virginia
Wayne is a town in Wayne County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 1,413 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Wayne County. Wayne is a part of the Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2015, the MSA had a population of 361,580.
Wayne was established in 1842, by the same act of the Virginia General Assembly that created Wayne County. The county was named for General "Mad Anthony" Wayne. The town was initially known by the name "Trout's Hill," after Abraham Trout, who donated the land upon which the county's courthouse was built. The Wayne Courthouse Post Office was established in 1842 also. The town was known simultaneously as Trout's Hill and Wayne Courthouse for many years. The town was incorporated in 1860 and 1882 as Fairview, but was still commonly known as Wayne Courthouse. The population in 1882 was 157. In 1890, the Norfolk & Western Railroad was constructed up Twelve Pole Creek. The railroad placed the name "Wayne" on its schedule and the name caught on. The name was officially changed to Wayne in 1911.
By the 1830s, the population in western Cabell County was growing, and it became necessary to form a new county in the area. Initially, a group of men from the Big Sandy River attempted to get a county created in 1840 with the county seat at the forks of the Big Sandy River where present Fort Gay is now located but it failed. A year later, men from Twelve Pole began working toward a new county with the county seat near the forks of Twelve Pole Creek. They were successful, and the new county was established on January 18, 1842 and named after General Anthony Wayne.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Program near Wayne WV
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wayne residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Wayne WV.
Other West Virginia Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 1