How to Choose a Paralegal School near Tillery North Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Tillery NC and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Tillery homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost 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 program must be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at 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 comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Tillery NC with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers 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 Tillery NC paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Tillery NC as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in North Carolina to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations in the field are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a certificate or degree 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 guarantee your success as a paralegal in Tillery NC.
Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more common and may be a good option for students in Tillery NC searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Tillery NC area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Tillery NC law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Tillery NC paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Tillery NC legal field. 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 Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with North Carolina legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within your Tillery NC local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Tillery NC. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Tillery NC, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Tillery NC?
Lake Tillery is a reservoir between Falls Reservoir and Blewett Falls Lake in the Uwharrie Lakes Region of North Carolina. It is entirely within Stanly County and Montgomery County, NC. The lake was created by impounding the Pee Dee River, which is created by the confluence of the Yadkin River and the Uwharrie River several miles to the north. Norwood, NC in neighboring Stanly County uses as its town motto "Gateway to Lake Tillery".
The James B. Garrison Bridge is the only crossing of the Pee-Dee-Yadkin River between Badin Lake and Norwood. The bridge carries traffic on North Carolina Highway 24/27/73 across the river and Lake Tillery from Stanly County to Montgomery County. Swift Island Bridge, the water's old crossing parallels the newer four-lane bridge which accompanies it; the older bridge is a narrow two-lane concrete arch bridge built in 1922.
In the 1920s when it was discovered that the 5,000-acre (20 km2) lake to be impounded behind the new dam would cover the original reinforced concrete and steel bridge, Carolina Power & Light (now Progress Energy Inc), owner of the new dam, turned it over to the U.S. military for training purposes. First, engineers were unable to collapse the bridge by overloading it with dead weight. Next, the Army Air Corp dropped bombs on it. Later, an artillery division targeted it with cannon fire. It finally took a ton of TNT to bring the bridge down. A clearly embarrassed U.S. War Department saved face by saying that it had obtained "valuable military data" from the experience.
Tillery Dam was constructed in 1928 as an 87-megawatt hydroelectric facility owned and operated by Carolina Power, and now owned by Duke Energy. Standing 86 feet high, 2800 feet long, and with four generators, the dam is operated to increase the efficiency of the company's Blewett Hydroelectric Plant, about 25 miles downstream.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Program near Tillery NC
Selecting 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 article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Tillery home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Tillery NC.
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