How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Watford City North Dakota
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Watford City ND and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive 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 academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Watford City homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Watford City ND with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Watford City ND paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties 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, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 fastest way to launch your career in Watford City ND as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in North Dakota to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Watford City ND.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for those in Watford City ND looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Watford City ND area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. 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 crucial factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 distance or online learning. 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 also. A number of Watford City ND law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Watford City ND paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Watford City ND legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with North Dakota legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Watford City ND local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Watford City ND. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Watford City ND, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Watford City ND?
Watford City, North Dakota
Watford City (Hidatsa: abaʔaruʔush), founded in 1914, is a city in and the county seat of McKenzie County, North Dakota, United States. The population was 1,744 at the 2010 census. and the Census Bureau gave the 2015 estimated population as 6,708, making Watford City the twelfth largest city in North Dakota. Because Watford City is part of the Bakken field, the North Dakota oil boom has significantly increased population and construction since the 2010 census.
In 1913, a few prospective businessmen located on the townsite of the future Watford City in anticipation of the arrival of the first Great Northern Railroad train. The Northern Land and Townsite Company, a division of the Great Northern, platted the town and sold lots in June 1914. Building began immediately, and many businesses and homes were moved from Schafer, which eventually became a ghost town. Watford was incorporated in June 1915, and was named by Dr. Vaughan G. Morris (1879–1940) for his hometown of Watford, Ontario. A year later the town added "City" to its name to differentiate itself from Wolford in Pierce County.
The Great Northern planned to extend its line to New Rockford and in 1914 began building the "Madson Grade," one of the longest dirt filled railroad grades in the country about a mile west of town. Two years later the grade was ninety feet high and nearly a mile long, but the project was abandoned shortly before the United States entered World War I.
Village officers were elected in 1915, and they concerned themselves with such tasks as impounding stray horses and cattle, prohibiting swine and chickens from town, locating hitching posts, and removing hay stacks from Main Street. The town had a band and baseball team from its founding. A school and several churches were also constructed almost immediately. During the Great Depression, a water and sanitary system was completed using labor mostly paid by the Public Works Administration.
Find the Best Paralegal College near Watford City ND
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Watford City home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Watford City ND.
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