How to Select a Paralegal School near Teton Village Wyoming
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Teton Village WY and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Teton Village residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take 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
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable 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 are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Teton Village WY lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour 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 mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Teton Village WY is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Wyoming to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Teton Village WY 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 particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to research also, including 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Teton Village WY law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Teton Village WY law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Teton Village WY legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Wyoming legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Wyoming or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those colleges that are within the Teton Village WY region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Teton Village WY. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Teton Village WY, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and can be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Teton Village WY?
If you live near Teton Village 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.
Teton Village, Wyoming
Teton Village is a census-designated place (CDP) in Teton County, Wyoming, United States. The population was 330 at the 2010 census. The village surrounds the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It is accessed from nearby Jackson, Wyoming and the surrounding area via the Moose-Wilson Road (Wyoming highway 390).
As of the census of 2000, there were 175 people, 88 households, and 44 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 34.9 people per square mile (13.5/km²). There were 396 housing units at an average density of 79.1/sq mi (30.5/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 98.86% Euro American and 1.14% Asian. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.71% of the population.
There were 88 households out of which 15.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 4.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.0% were non-families. 36.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.99 and the average family size was 2.68.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Training near Teton Village WY
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Teton Village home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Teton Village WY.
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