How to Select a Paralegal School near Kootenai Idaho
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kootenai ID and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Kootenai homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly 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 basically both fill the same job roles and functions, 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 paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Kootenai ID with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like 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 responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Kootenai ID paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Kootenai ID as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Idaho to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Kootenai ID.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for those in Kootenai ID searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater 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 school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Kootenai ID area schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to research 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 effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Kootenai ID law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Kootenai ID paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Kootenai ID legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Idaho legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. 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 might want to initially investigate those schools that are within your Kootenai ID local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, 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 may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Kootenai ID. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Kootenai ID, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Kootenai ID?
Kootenai County, Idaho
Kootenai County (/ˈkuːtniː/ KOOT-nee) is a county located in the U.S. state of Idaho. As of the 2010 census, the population was 138,494, making it the third-most populous county in Idaho. The county seat and largest city is Coeur d'Alene. The county was established in 1864 and named after the Kootenai tribe.
The Coeur d'Alene region takes its name from that given the local natives by French fur trappers. The tribe initially consisted of three bands that inhabited the areas surrounding Coeur d'Alene Lake and the Coeur d'Alene River. Canadian fur trade came to the region starting in 1809, marking the tribe's first contact with Europeans. Christian missionaries would follow with the first Christian meeting officiated by Father Nicolas Pointe on the north bank of Coeur d'Alene Lake at its junction with the Spokane River on December 2, 1842. The St. Joseph mission was initially established northwest of St. Maries in 1844 before being renamed Mission of the Sacred Heart at its relocation to the Cataldo site in 1846. Construction of Idaho's oldest structure commenced with construction of the mission church being completed by 1855. The mission headquarters was moved to DeSmet in 1877.
The Mullan Road was constructed through the area in 1859 with the route originally running on the southern side of Coeur d'Alene Lake. A route on the northern side of Coeur D'Alene Lake commenced in 1861. Mullan's men celebrated Independence Day of 1861 at Fourth of July Canyon east of Coeur d'Alene.
The Idaho Territorial Legislature created Kootenai County on December 22, 1864. A county government was not immediately organized as a result of lack of significant settlement in the region. Kootenai County contained 81 residents at the 1864 Census of Idaho Territory. Rathdrum was the first of the present incorporated cities to experience settlement starting in 1861. It became a stagecoach stop and later the Kootenai County seat. At the 1870 census, the region was reported under Nez Perce County as the Kootenai District with 31 residents. Post Falls was settled in 1871 while Camp Coeur d'Alene was established in 1878. The camp became a Fort in 1879 and the town of Coeur d'Alene grew up around the fort. Dalton Gardens, Hayden, and Hayden Lake were also settled around this time.
Choose the Best Paralegal Training near Kootenai ID
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Kootenai residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Kootenai ID.
Other Cool Cities in Idaho