How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Post Falls Idaho
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Post Falls ID and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Post Falls residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold 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 help lawyers in Post Falls ID with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Post Falls ID paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited 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 preparation and ground work, 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 essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Post Falls ID as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Idaho to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 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 first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Post Falls ID.
Online Paralegal Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals in Post Falls ID searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Post Falls ID area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets 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 show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Post Falls ID law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Post Falls ID paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Post Falls ID legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success 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 substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Post Falls ID local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Post Falls ID. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Post Falls ID, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Post Falls ID?
Post Falls, Idaho
Post Falls is a city in Kootenai County, Idaho, between Coeur d'Alene and Spokane, Washington. It is both a suburb of Coeur d'Alene, to the east; and a bedroom community to Spokane, to the west. The population was 27,574 at the 2010 census, up from 17,247 in 2000 census, making it Idaho's tenth largest city. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated 2014 population is 30,123.
Post Falls is named after Frederick Post, a German immigrant who constructed a lumber mill along the Spokane River in 1871 on land he purchased from Andrew Seltice, Chief of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. The purchase of the land is preserved in a pictograph on a granite cliff in Treaty Rock park.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.11 square miles (36.54 km2), of which 14.07 square miles (36.44 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.
Post Falls is located four miles (6.4 km) east of the Washington-Idaho border along Interstate 90 in Kootenai County. It is bounded by Coeur d’Alene to the east, the state of Washington to the west, the Spokane River to the south and the Rathdrum prairie to the north. Post Falls is 20 miles (32 km) east of Spokane and approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. The elevation of the city is 2,182 feet (665 m) above sea level.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Post Falls ID
Enrolling in the right 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 at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Post Falls residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Post Falls ID.
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