How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Port Royal South Carolina
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Port Royal SC and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Port Royal residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Port Royal SC with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like 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 are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Port Royal SC paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Port Royal SC as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in South Carolina to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Port Royal SC.
Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for students in Port Royal SC searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least 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 looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Port Royal SC area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Port Royal SC law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Port Royal SC paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Port Royal SC legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with South Carolina legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Port Royal SC local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Port Royal SC. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Port Royal SC, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Port Royal SC?
Port Royal, South Carolina
Port Royal is a town on Port Royal Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. Largely because of annexation of surrounding areas (including Parris Island), the population of Port Royal rose from 3,950 in 2000 to 10,678 in 2010, a 170% increase. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Port Royal is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Port Royal is home to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and Naval Hospital Beaufort.
Port Royal takes its name from the adjacent Port Royal Sound, which was explored and named by Frenchman Jean Ribault in 1562. Ribault founded the short-lived settlement of Charlesfort on Parris Island. The area later became the site of a Spanish and still later Scottish colony during the 17th century.
Port Royal was the site of the Naval Battle of Port Royal during the Civil War. Later during the war, it was the one of the sites of the Port Royal Experiment, which included most of the Sea Islands in Union hands. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was first read at Christmas under the Proclamation tree in Port Royal.
Due to the benefits of a large and sheltered natural harbor, Port Royal was able to develop port facilities to support the growing phosphate mining activities after the Civil War. The Port Royal Railroad was completed from Port Royal to a junction with the main Charleston and Savannah Railway in Yemassee, thus establishing a land route for trade and commerce. Development of a community around the previously isolated port site at the end of the Beaufort River and Battery Creek led to the platting of streets and town lots by development interests. A land rush ensued, and Port Royal was officially incorporated in 1874, 300 years after initial settlement efforts.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Port Royal SC
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Port Royal residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program 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, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting 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 school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Port Royal SC.
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