How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Windham New Hampshire
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Windham NH and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive 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 increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Windham homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives 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, just with different titles. However, 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 Windham NH with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Windham NH paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. 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 restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Windham NH as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New Hampshire to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Windham NH.
Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students in Windham NH searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Windham NH area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical aspects to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Windham NH law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Windham NH paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select 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 quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Windham NH legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing 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 New Hampshire legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those colleges that are within your Windham NH local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, 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 also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Windham NH. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Windham NH, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Windham NH?
Windham, New Hampshire
The area was initially home to the Pawtucket Native Americans. Scottish immigrants began to settle in the area in 1719. The region was known as “Nutfield” and included what are now the neighboring towns of Derry and Londonderry. By 1721 some of the original settlers petitioned to form a separate independent community. Governor Benning Wentworth granted this request in 1742. One published theory holds that the community's name refers to Windham, Ireland, harkening back to the petitioners' homeland. However, it has been alternatively postulated that the town was named after Sir Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont, a member of Parliament from 1734 to 1750, Secretary of State for the Southern Department from 1761 to 1763, and a good friend of Governor Wentworth. The town of Windham was originally a parish of Londonderry. Windham was the second town designated by Governor Benning Wentworth following the establishment of the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border. Windham was the birthplace of Samuel Dinsmoor, Governor of New Hampshire from 1831 to 1834. The first census ever taken in Windham totaled at 663 residents in the year 1790.
Historic landmarks in Windham include the Searles School, Searles Castle, the town center, and the Armstrong Memorial Building. Searles Castle is one of Windham’s most prominent landmarks. Edward F. Searles, an interior decorator and antique collector, built the castle. The architect, Henry Vaughn, modeled the castle’s architecture after the style of the Stanton Harcourt Manor in Oxfordshire, England. The building was completed in 1915 at a cost of over $1,250,000. The castle contains over 20 rooms and is available to the public to be rented out for functions and events. In July 1909, Mr. Searles erected a commemorative plaque honoring governor Samuel Dinsmoor "a few rods" from his birthplace on Jenny's Hill, which stands today as a designated historic landmark.
Windham is situated in Rockingham County in southeastern New Hampshire, approximately 3 miles (5 km) north of the Massachusetts border. It is accessible from Exit 3 of Interstate 93. Windham is considered a bedroom community because of its growing population (over 10,000), only about 160 commercial land parcels, and lack of public transportation. The nearest airport to Windham is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, about 20 miles (32 km) to the north. Boston, Massachusetts, is 37 miles (60 km) to the south along Interstate 93. The landscape of Windham consists of suburban subdivisions, rural open spaces and large areas of undeveloped land.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 27.9 square miles (72 km2), of which 26.8 sq mi (69 km2) is land and 1.1 sq mi (2.8 km2) is water, comprising 3.80% of the town. The highest point is Jenny's Hill, at 505 feet (154 m) above sea level.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal College near Windham NH
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Windham home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Windham NH.
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