How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Newport Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Newport RI and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Newport homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Newport RI with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Newport RI paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Newport RI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Rhode Island to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Newport RI.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be a good option for students in Newport RI looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee 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 respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Newport RI area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Newport RI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Newport RI paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Newport RI legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Rhode Island legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within your Newport RI local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Newport RI. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Newport RI, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Newport RI?
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a seaside city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States. It is located approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Providence, 21 miles (34 km) south of Fall River, and 74 miles (119 km) south of Boston. It is known as a New England summer resort and is famous for its historic mansions. It is also the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport, which houses the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and an important United States Navy training center. It was a major 18th-century port city and also contains a high number of surviving buildings from the Colonial era of the United States.
The city is the county seat of Newport County, which has no governmental functions other than court administrative and sheriff corrections boundaries. It was known for being the location of the "Summer White Houses" during the administrations of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. The population was 24,027 as of 2013.
Newport was founded in 1639 on Aquidneck Island, which was called Rhode Island at the time. Its eight founders and first officers were Nicholas Easton, William Coddington, John Clarke, John Coggeshall, William Brenton, Jeremy Clark, Thomas Hazard, and Henry Bull. Many of these people had been part of the settlement at Portsmouth, along with Anne Hutchinson and her followers. They separated within a year of that settlement, however, and Coddington and others began the settlement of Newport on the southern side of the island.
Newport grew to be the largest of the four original settlements which became the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which also included Providence Plantations and Shawomett. Many of the first colonists in Newport became Baptists, and the second Baptist congregation in Rhode Island was formed in 1640 under the leadership of John Clarke. In 1658, a group of Jews were welcomed to settle in Newport; they were fleeing the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal but had not been permitted to settle elsewhere. The Newport congregation is now referred to as Congregation Jeshuat Israel and is the second-oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. It meets in Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the United States.
Find the Ideal Paralegal School near Newport RI
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Newport home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Newport RI.
Other Cool Cities in Rhode Island
Business Results 1 - 10 of 36