How to Select a Paralegal Program near Rutland Vermont
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Rutland VT and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Rutland residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices 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 hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Rutland VT with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties 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 are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Rutland VT paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Rutland VT as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Vermont to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Rutland VT.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Rutland VT searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Rutland VT area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to research 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 schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Rutland VT law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Rutland VT paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Rutland VT legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Vermont legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within your Rutland VT local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Rutland VT. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Rutland VT, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Rutland VT?
Rutland (city), Vermont
The city of Rutland is the seat of Rutland County, Vermont, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 16,495. It is located approximately 65 miles (105 km) north of the Massachusetts state line and 20 miles (32 km) east of the New York state line. Rutland is the third largest city in the state of Vermont after Burlington and South Burlington. It is surrounded by the town of Rutland, which is a separate municipality. The downtown area of the city is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
It began on Otter Creek in the early 19th century as a small hamlet called Mill Village in Rutland, the surrounding town named by Governor Benning Wentworth in 1761 after John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland. In the early 19th century, small high-quality marble deposits were discovered in Rutland, and in the 1830s a large deposit of nearly solid marble was found in what is now West Rutland. By the 1840s, small firms had begun excavations, but marble quarries proved profitable only after the railroad arrived in 1851. At the same time, the famous quarries of Carrara in Tuscany, Italy, grew largely unworkable because of their extreme depth, allowing Rutland to become one of the world's leading marble producers. A large number of Italians with experience in the industry immigrated and brought their families to Rutland.
This fueled enough growth and investment that in 1886 the center of town incorporated as Rutland village. Most of the town was split off as West Rutland and Proctor, which contained the bulk of the marble quarries. Rutland City was incorporated as Vermont's third city on November 18, 1892. The new city's first mayor was John A. Mead, who served only one term in 1893.
In 1894, the nation's first polio outbreak was identified in the Rutland area. 132 people from the Rutland area were affected. Seven died. 110 others suffered some paralysis for life. 55 were from the city itself.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Rutland VT
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Rutland residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Rutland VT.
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