How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Pocatello Idaho
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Pocatello ID and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Pocatello homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Pocatello ID with a diverse array of job functions, such as 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. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Pocatello ID paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Pocatello ID as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Idaho 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Pocatello ID.
Online Paralegal Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for students in Pocatello ID searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items 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 a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Pocatello ID area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Pocatello ID law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Pocatello ID paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Pocatello ID legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance 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 Idaho legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to 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 colleges that are within your Pocatello ID local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Pocatello ID. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Pocatello ID, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Pocatello ID?
Pocatello (/ˈpoʊkəˈtɛloʊ/ ( listen)) is the county seat and largest city of Bannock County, with a small portion on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in neighboring Power County, in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Idaho. It is the principal city of the Pocatello metropolitan area, which encompasses all of Bannock county. As of the 2010 census the population of Pocatello was 54,255.
Pocatello is the fifth largest city in the state, just behind Idaho Falls (population of 56,813). In 2007, Pocatello was ranked twentieth on Forbes list of Best Small Places for Business and Careers. Pocatello is the home of Idaho State University and the manufacturing facility of ON Semiconductor. The city is at an elevation of 4,462 feet (1,360 m) above sea level and is served by the Pocatello Regional Airport.
Founded in 1889, Pocatello was known as the "Gateway to the Northwest." As pioneers, gold miners and settlers traveled the Oregon Trail, they passed through the Portneuf Gap south of town. Stage and freight lines and the railroad soon followed, turning the community into a trade center and transportation junction.
Shoshone and Bannock Indian tribes inhabited southeastern Idaho for hundreds of years before the epic trek by Lewis and Clark across Idaho in 1805. Their reports of the many riches of the region attracted fur trappers and traders to southeastern Idaho.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Pocatello ID
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Pocatello home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Pocatello ID.
Other Cool Cities in Idaho