How to Select a Paralegal Program near Socorro New Mexico
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Socorro NM and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Socorro residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational 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 for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just 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 assist attorneys in Socorro NM with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, 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 diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Socorro NM paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical 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, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Socorro NM as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New Mexico to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Socorro NM.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for students in Socorro NM searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Socorro NM area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 already discussed, there are other significant factors to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, 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 training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Socorro NM law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Socorro NM paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Socorro NM legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with New Mexico legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. 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 consider those colleges that are within your Socorro NM local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Socorro NM. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Socorro NM, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Socorro NM?
Socorro, New Mexico
Socorro is a city in Socorro County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is in the Rio Grande Valley at an elevation of 4,579 feet (1,396 m). In 2012 the population was 8,906. It is the county seat of Socorro County. Socorro is located 74 miles (119 km) south of Albuquerque and 146 miles (235 km) north of Las Cruces.
In June 1598, Juan de Oñate led a group of Spanish settlers through the Jornada del Muerto, an inhospitable patch of desert that ends just south of the present-day city of Socorro. As the Spaniards emerged from the desert, Piro Indians of the pueblo of Teypana gave them food and water. Therefore, the Spaniards renamed this pueblo Socorro, which means "help" or "aid". Later, the name "Socorro" would be applied to the nearby Piro pueblo of Pilabó.
Nuestra Señora de Perpetuo Socorro, the first Catholic mission in the area, was probably established c. 1626. Fray Agustín de Vetancurt would later write that around 600 people lived in the area during this period. Mines in the Socorro mountains were opened by 1626.
During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Spanish refugees stopped in the pueblo of Socorro. A number of Piro Indians followed the Spaniards as they left the province to go south to safety. With no protection of Spanish troops, Socorro was destroyed and the remaining Piro were killed by the Apache and other tribes.
Find the Best Paralegal Program near Socorro NM
Selecting the best paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Socorro home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Socorro NM.
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