How to Find a Paralegal College near Rigby Idaho
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Rigby ID and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Rigby residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s take 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 essentially 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 paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Rigby ID with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Rigby ID paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Rigby ID as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Idaho to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Rigby ID.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Rigby ID searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Rigby ID area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get 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 quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Rigby ID law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Rigby ID paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Rigby ID legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good 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 state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within your Rigby ID local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Rigby ID. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Rigby ID, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Rigby ID?
Rigby was founded by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1884 and incorporated in 1903. The community was named after William F. Rigby, a prominent early settler and member of the LDS church. A significant majority of Rigby's residents, as well as those of the outlying communities, are members of the LDS faith. Baptist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran faiths also have current local congregations.
The larger "Rigby area" includes such outlying unincorporated communities as Annis, Garfield, Grant, Labelle, and Clark. Other nearby incorporated areas within Jefferson County include Menan, Roberts, Lewisville, and Ririe. Rigby is part of the Idaho Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is located directly between the two larger Idaho cities of Idaho Falls and Rexburg, providing its residents with a wide variety of shopping, entertainment and cultural choices.
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,945 people, 1,328 households, and 994 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,678.7 inhabitants per square mile (648.1/km2). There were 1,428 housing units at an average density of 607.7 per square mile (234.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.5% White, 0.2% African American, 0.9% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 6.7% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.8% of the population.
There were 1,328 households of which 45.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.0% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 25.2% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.91 and the average family size was 3.43.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Program near Rigby ID
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Rigby home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Rigby ID.
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