How to Select a Paralegal School near Tonkawa Oklahoma
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Tonkawa OK and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Tonkawa residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Tonkawa OK with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Tonkawa OK paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Tonkawa OK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Oklahoma to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Tonkawa OK.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for students in Tonkawa OK searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Tonkawa OK area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to 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 also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Tonkawa OK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Tonkawa OK paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Tonkawa OK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Oklahoma legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Tonkawa OK local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Tonkawa OK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Tonkawa OK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Tonkawa OK?
Named after the Tonkawa tribe, the city of Tonkawa was founded in March 1894, by Eli V. Blake and Wiley William Gregory. Blake and Gregory, originally from Kansas, claimed the land that would become Tonkawa in the Land Run of 1893. Prior to the land run, from 1879 to 1885, this area was home to the Nez Perce. The Blackwell and Southern Railway (later bought by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) built a line through Tonkawa, which stimulated growth of the town. In 1901, the Oklahoma Territory Legislature established the University Preparatory School (now Northern Oklahoma College) here. By statehood, the population was 1,238. The discovery of oil caused a boom in the 1920s, and the population was 3,311 in 1930.
During World War II, Tonkawa was home to Camp Tonkawa, a Prisoner of War camp. Camp Tonkawa remained in operation from August 30, 1943 to September 1, 1945. Built between October and December 1942, the 160-acre (0.65 km2) site contained more than 180 wooden structures for 3,000 German POW's as well as 500 U.S. Army guard troops, service personnel and civilian employees. The first prisoners, consisting of German troops from the Afrika Corps, arrived in August 1943. During their internment, prisoners labored at local farms and ranches. In November 1943, a prison riot caused the death of a German soldier, Johannes Kunze. Eight prisoners briefly escaped, only to be recaptured.
Tonkawa is located at 36°40′49″N 97°18′33″W / 36.68028°N 97.30917°W / 36.68028; -97.30917 (36.680362, -97.309219). It is on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, 14 miles (23 km) west of Ponca City. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.6 square miles (15 km2), of which 5.6 square miles (15 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.36%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,299 people, 1,197 households, and 801 families residing in the city. The population density was 591.3 people per square mile (228.3/km²). There were 1,417 housing units at an average density of 254.0 per square mile (98.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.39% White, 0.85% African American, 5.55% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 3.06% from other races, and 3.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.64% of the population.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Tonkawa OK
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Tonkawa residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Tonkawa OK.
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