How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Union City Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Union City MI and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Union City residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Union City MI with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Union City MI paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Union City MI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Michigan to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Union City MI.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good option for individuals in Union City MI looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Union City MI area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community 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 degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Union City MI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Union City MI paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings 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 recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Union City MI legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Michigan legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Union City MI local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Union City MI. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Union City MI, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Union City MI?
Union City, Michigan
Union City is a village in Branch and Calhoun counties in the U.S. state of Michigan. Located mostly within Union Township in Branch County, it sits at the junction of the Coldwater and St. Joseph rivers; the Calhoun County portion lies within that county's Burlington Township. It is part of the Battle Creek, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,599 at the 2010 census.
Union City is located on the northern border of Branch County, about ten miles (16 km) northwest of Coldwater. This is a small picturesque and historic town that functions primarily as an adjunct community to the greater Coldwater and Battle Creek areas. It has a striking turn-of-the-century look architecturally, with well–preserved downtown buildings and several Victorian style homes. A Civil War monument can be seen on the north end of the main street area in the churchyard, while a veteran’s memorial along the riverbank to the south end commemorates those who fought in more recent wars.
Union City was first settled by Justin Goodwin in 1833, when he built a mill here and became the first postmaster, calling it "Goodwinville". A year later, he sold several hundred acres to E. W. Morgan, who officially platted the site, renaming it from the "union" of the Coldwater and St. Joseph Rivers, which join there. A consortium of four proprietors bought the site in 1837. It was eventually incorporated as a village in 1866.
Union City was designated as Station No. 2 of the famous Underground Railroad, where John D. Zimmerman (1811-1879), formerly of Connecticut, was stationmaster. The slaves seeking refuge were taken into a home built around 1840 by Mr. Zimmerman, who arrived in Union City from Fairfield, Connecticut, in the spring of 1838. He brought with him a set of blacksmith tools to operate the blacksmith shop promised for him by Israel Ward Clark, one of the four proprietors of the village of Union City in 1837. In September 1839, Zimmerman returned to Union City with his family; he soon built a wagon factory, blacksmith shop, and a Greek Revival house. Outraged by the institution of slavery, Zimmerman became a stationmaster for the Underground Railroad, hiding escaped slaves in his house and assisting them in their flight to Canada and freedom. The home is on the list of Michigan State Historic Sites and is located at 119 East High Street.
Choose the Best Paralegal Program near Union City MI
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Union City residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Union City MI.
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