How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near West Enfield Maine
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near West Enfield ME and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their West Enfield homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices 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 fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in West Enfield ME with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a West Enfield ME paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in West Enfield ME as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Maine to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in West Enfield ME.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be a good option for those in West Enfield ME searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing West Enfield ME area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous West Enfield ME law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the West Enfield ME paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the West Enfield ME legal field. 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 after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Maine legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those colleges that are within your West Enfield ME local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in West Enfield ME. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near West Enfield ME, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in West Enfield ME?
Enfield is a town in Penobscot County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,607 at the 2010 census. There is also a large seasonal population with many cottages located on Cold Stream Pond, a lake within the town.
In 1891, four armed men boarded and attempted to rob a train as it passed through Enfield, shooting at the engineer, fireman, and conductors. They also shot up the train station. They failed in their attempt to break into the mail-car, but it was a dark night and they escaped capture.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 33.00 square miles (85.47 km2), of which, 27.74 square miles (71.85 km2) of it is land and 5.26 square miles (13.62 km2) is water.
Cold Stream Pond covers the eastern side of the town of Enfield. There is a public boat launching facility on Old Hatchery Road off Maine State Route 188. A ridge creates a narrow portion of the pond separating a smaller northern basin from the larger southern basin. Summer oxygen concentrations often become unfavorably low in the northern basin. The most significant tributary is Smelt Brook draining Upper Cold Stream Pond and Little Round Pond into the northern basin from Lincoln. The southwest corner of the pond overflows through Cold Stream 5 miles (8.0 km) south to reach the Passadumkeag River 2 miles (3.2 km) upstream of the Penobscot River. Cobb State Fish Hatchery is located beside the outlet using water from the pond to raise fish for stocking elsewhere. A self-sustaining native population of lake trout spawn in Webb Cove in the southeast corner of the pond. The lake trout forage on a population of rainbow smelt spawning in Smelt Brook. Atlantic salmon were introduced to the pond in 1876.
Choose the Best Paralegal School near West Enfield ME
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your West Enfield residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training 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 ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in West Enfield ME.
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