How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Athol Idaho
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Athol ID and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Athol homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Athol ID with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Athol ID paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. 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 apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training 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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Athol ID as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Idaho to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Athol ID.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals in Athol ID looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Athol ID area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Athol ID law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Athol ID paralegal programs you are contemplating. 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. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Athol ID legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Idaho legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Athol ID local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Athol ID. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Athol ID, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Athol ID?
Athol is a city in Kootenai County, Idaho, United States. The population was 692 at the 2010 census, up from 676 in 2000. It is part of the Coeur d'Alene Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes the entire county.
Athol is notable for the nearby Silverwood theme park. Several miles east of town is Farragut State Park at the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille. The U.S. Navy's Acoustic Research Detachment in nearby Bayview conducts research with large-scale submarine models in the deepwater lake.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $30,595, and the median income for a family was $31,875. Males had a median income of $28,438 versus $17,813 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,632. About 11.0% of families and 14.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.3% of those under age 18 and 23.7% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 692 people, 282 households, and 176 families residing in the city. The population density was 875.9 inhabitants per square mile (338.2/km2). There were 305 housing units at an average density of 386.1 per square mile (149.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.0% White, 0.9% Native American, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.3% of the population.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Athol ID
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Athol residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Athol ID.
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