How to Select a Paralegal College near Piedmont South Carolina
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Piedmont SC and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Piedmont residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices 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 comparable job positions and functions, only 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 attorneys in Piedmont SC with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Piedmont SC paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle 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 perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Piedmont SC as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in South Carolina to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Piedmont SC.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Piedmont SC searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often 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 a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about 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 formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Piedmont SC area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Piedmont SC law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Piedmont SC paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Piedmont SC legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Piedmont SC local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. 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 assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Piedmont SC. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Piedmont SC, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Piedmont SC?
Piedmont, South Carolina
Native Americans and early settlers of Piedmont called the area "Big Shoals of the Saluda" after the Saluda River. The Native Americans used the shoals as a crossing. David Garrison established a grist mill around 1850 upon the shoals changing the name of the area to Garrison Shoals. Henry Pinckney Hammett bought this property for his cotton mill that used water power of the shoals. The name of the area changed again to Piedmont, "Foot of the Mountains" and became a mill town. The American Civil War disrupted Hammett's project until 1876 when his plant began operations. Piedmont was added to Hammett's charter for Piedmont Manufacturing Company and a railroad station. Water power from the Saluda River was also used to produce electricity to run the machinery from the 1880s to the 1920s. The machinery of the Piedmont Manufacturing Company was from Saco Lowell and Whitin Machine Works that helped finance Hammett's company. In 1946 the mills were sold to J.P. Stevens and Company where it then was updated with modern features. Manufacturing continued until 1977 and in 1983 most of Piedmont Manufacturing Company burned down.
Piedmont is located in northern Anderson County and southwestern Greenville County at 34°42′15″N 82°27′41″W / 34.70417°N 82.46139°W / 34.70417; -82.46139 (34.704140, -82.461427). It is 12 miles (19 km) south of the center of Greenville. Exit 35 on Interstate 85 is 2 miles (3 km) to the west of the center of Piedmont. South Carolina state road 86 cuts through the small town also, connecting with Interstate 85 at Exit 35. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 8.8 square miles (22.7 km2), of which 8.6 square miles (22.3 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.93%, is water. The Saluda River flows southwards over a dam through the center of town.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,684 people, 1,829 households, and 1,349 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 545.6 people per square mile (210.8/km²). There were 1,992 housing units at an average density of 232.0 per square mile (89.6/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 92.08% White, 5.85% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.11% from other races, and 1.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.20% of the population.
There were 1,829 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.4% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 23.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.95.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Training near Piedmont SC
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Piedmont residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Piedmont SC.
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