How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Williamsburg Pennsylvania
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Williamsburg PA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Williamsburg homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered 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 roles and responsibilities, 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 help lawyers in Williamsburg PA with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents 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 job of a Williamsburg PA paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions 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 handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
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. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Williamsburg PA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Pennsylvania to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Williamsburg PA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more available and can be a good option for students in Williamsburg PA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for example 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 might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Williamsburg PA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must 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 as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency 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 targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Williamsburg PA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Williamsburg PA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Williamsburg PA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools 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 substantial networks and good relationships with Pennsylvania legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within your Williamsburg PA local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Williamsburg PA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Williamsburg PA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Williamsburg PA?
On July 6, 1754 a treaty was signed at Albany, New York between the Iroquois and the William Penn heirs, opening up portions of the west for settlement. However, British policy forbid western expansion and was in effect until after the American Revolution.
On September 17, 1789, George Reynolds took out a patent from the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania for a large tract of unsettled land surrounding the Big Spring which flows into the Juniata River.
The borough was founded in 1790 by Jacob Ake. Originally called Aketown, it is the oldest borough in the current borders of Blair County. The name change was in honor of William Ake, Jacob's son. By 1810, there were 34 houses in the village; the census of 1820 notes an inn, a distillery, and the presence of one slave. The Main Line of the Pennsylvania Canal was completed in 1832, and opened on November 28 when the packetboat "John Blair" left Huntingdon, for the west. The Blair County Children's Home was located in Williamsburg for many years until its destruction by fire. Today, the borough is approximately 30 blocks, centered on High and Second Streets. This comprises the Williamsburg Historic District, listed by the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Nearby places also listed are: Etna Furnace and the Daniel Royer House.
Originally served by a canal along the Frankstown Branch Juniata River, the canal was abandoned in 1872. In the following year, the Pennsylvania Railroad completed a branch line from Hollidaysburg to Williamsburg along the old canal towpath. It would eventually be extended to Petersburg in 1900, completing a bypass of the main line known as the Hollidaysburg and Petersburg Branch. The railroad supplied passenger service on the branch until 1933. Freight service would continue until 1982, when Conrail abandoned the line through Williamsburg. It is now the Lower Trail (vide infra).
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Williamsburg PA
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Williamsburg residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose 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 right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Williamsburg PA.
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