How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Sundance Wyoming
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Sundance WY and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Sundance homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Sundance WY attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Sundance WY is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may 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 acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Wyoming to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Sundance WY area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Sundance WY law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Sundance WY law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Sundance WY legal community. Ask 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 provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Wyoming legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Wyoming or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Sundance WY area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Sundance WY. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Sundance WY, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Sundance WY?
If you live near Sundance WY 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.
Sundance (Lakota: Owíwaŋyaŋg Wačhí; "Sun-Watching Dance") is a town in and the county seat of Crook County, Wyoming, United States. The population was 1,182 at the 2010 census. The town is named for the Sun Dance ceremony practiced by several Native American Indian tribes.
After his release from the town jail in 1888, Harry Longabaugh, an outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch in the American Old West, acquired the moniker, "the Sundance Kid". His nickname entered the popular culture with release of the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which won several Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay. Robert Redford, who portrayed Longabaugh in the movie, later named his Sundance Ski Resort near Provo, Utah, and the Sundance Film Festival after this character.
The town of Sundance is the primary setting of Scumble, a children's novel by Ingrid Law, and a sequel to her earlier children's book, Savvy. Sundance, Wyoming is also the primary setting for Lorelei James' novels in her "Rough Riders" series of 16 books involving the fictional McKay family, eking out a living as multi generational ranchers and the younger generation's accepting who they are individually, the ins and outs of working with family every day and finding love.
Select the Best Paralegal Training near Sundance WY
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is an important 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 Sundance home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior 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 prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Sundance WY.
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