How to Select a Paralegal School near Taylor Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Taylor MI and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Taylor homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Taylor MI with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work 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 comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Taylor MI paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training 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 educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Taylor MI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Michigan to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Taylor MI.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for students in Taylor MI searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Taylor MI area schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Taylor MI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Taylor MI paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Taylor MI legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Michigan legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Taylor MI local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Taylor MI. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Taylor MI, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Taylor MI?
Taylor is a city in Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. Its population was 63,131 at the 2010 census. Originally known as Taylor Township, its residents voted to incorporate it as the City of Taylor in May 1968. It is the 17th most populous city in Michigan and the 543rd in the United States.
Taylor Township was named in honor of Zachary Taylor, a national military hero in the 1840s who was later elected the twelfth President of the United States in 1849. Taylor Township was organized on March 16, 1847 from 24 square miles (62 km2) that were originally part of Ecorse Township, Michigan. It is 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Detroit.
Taylor is a member of the Downriver Community. It is home to Southland Shopping Center, Wallside Windows Factory, Taylor Sportsplex, Taylor Meadows Golf Course, Lakes of Taylor Golf Course, Beaumont (Oakwood Heritage) Hospital, the Michigan State Police Metro South Post and Wayne County Community College Downriver Campus. It is the birthplace of Hungry Howie's Pizza.
Taylor's large municipal park, Heritage Park, features ball diamonds, soccer fields, pavilions, barbeque grills, picnic tables, restrooms, a playground, historic buildings, shops, a catch-and-release fishing pond, a 1/3-mile walking path and path system, an old-growth nature area, park benches, a picnic area, a playground and a petting farm. It is home to the Taylor South Little League, the Junior League World Series and the Taylor Soccer Club.
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Taylor MI
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed 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 Taylor home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Taylor MI.
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