How to Choose a Paralegal School near Wallops Island Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wallops Island VA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Wallops Island residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at 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 roles and responsibilities, only 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Wallops Island VA with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare 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 Wallops Island VA paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Wallops Island VA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Virginia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations in the field 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Wallops Island VA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals in Wallops Island VA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing Wallops Island VA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential 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 issues to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Wallops Island VA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Wallops Island VA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Wallops Island VA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing 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 Virginia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want 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 look at those colleges that are within your Wallops Island VA local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Wallops Island VA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Wallops Island VA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Wallops Island VA?
Wallops Island is a six-square-mile (16 km2) island in Accomack County, Virginia, part of the Virginia Barrier Islands that stretch along the eastern seaboard of the United States of America. The island is just south of Chincoteague Island, a popular tourist destination.
Wallops Island proper, originally known as Kegotank Island, was granted to John Wallop by the Crown on April 29, 1692. Ownership was divided down through the years, until the Commonwealth of Virginia seized the property in 1876 and 1877 in lieu of unpaid taxes. From 1877, ownership was again divided and sub-divided until 1889, when it was held by various trustees for the Wallops Island Club. The Club was incorporated and assumed ownership in 1933 as the Wallops Island Association, Inc. Association members and their families spent the summers fishing and swimming on the island. The Association grazed sheep, cattle, and ponies on the area until the mid-1940s. In 1947, the U.S. Navy began using the upper two-thirds of the island on a lease-rental basis for aviation ordnance testing. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (N.A.C.A.), forerunner of NASA, leased the lower 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) for rocket launching facilities.
The island is primarily used for NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, including the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, although the name also refers to the peninsula area surrounding the island for the purpose of mailing addresses. The Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge is located on the island.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Wallops Island VA
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Wallops Island home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wallops Island VA.
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