How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Sandia Park New Mexico
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Sandia Park NM and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Sandia Park residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at 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 essentially both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Sandia Park NM with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Sandia Park NM paralegal can be complicated 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 paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main 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 on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Sandia Park NM as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in New Mexico to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Sandia Park NM.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for students in Sandia Park NM looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Sandia Park NM area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important 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 programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School 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 can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Sandia Park NM law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Sandia Park NM paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Sandia Park NM legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with New Mexico legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Sandia Park NM local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Sandia Park NM. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance 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 just attend weekend or evening classes near Sandia Park NM, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Sandia Park NM?
Sandia National Laboratories
The Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration research and development laboratories. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, will take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.
Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons. The primary campus is located on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the other is in Livermore, California, next to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There is also a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.
It is Sandia's mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States' nuclear weapons program's hazardous waste. Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology, mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute), materials science, alternative energy, psychology, MEMS, and cognitive science initiatives. Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world's fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm, originally known as Thor's Hammer. Sandia is also home to the Z Machine. The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear weapons.
Sandia National Laboratories' roots go back to World War II and the Manhattan Project. Prior to the United States formally entering the war, the U.S. Army leased land near an Albuquerque, New Mexico airport known as Oxnard Field, to service transient Army and U.S. Navy aircraft. In January 1941 construction began on the Albuquerque Army Air Base, leading to establishment of the Bombardier School-Army Advanced Flying School near the end of the year. Soon thereafter it was renamed Kirtland Field, after early Army military pilot Colonel Roy C. Kirtland, and in mid-1942 the Army acquired Oxnard Field. During the war years facilities were expanded further and Kirtland Field served as a major Army Air Forces training installation.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Sandia Park NM
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Sandia Park home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, 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 career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Sandia Park NM.
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