How to Choose a Paralegal College near Williamstown Kentucky
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Williamstown KY and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive 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 a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Williamstown homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Kentucky Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part 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 are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Williamstown KY lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare 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 paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for Williamstown KY lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at many Williamstown KY area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Kentucky to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 Williamstown KY area school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular in Williamstown KY and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or 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 commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address 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 certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at Williamstown KY area community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Williamstown KY law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Kentucky paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since Williamstown KY employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other Williamstown KY legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Williamstown KY legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Kentucky or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local Williamstown KY legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within your local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending 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 as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Williamstown KY. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Williamstown KY, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Williamstown KY
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Williamstown home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Williamstown KY.
More About Williamstown Kentucky
Williamstown is a home-rule-class city in Grant and Pendleton counties in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The population was 3,925 at the 2010 census, up from 3,227 as of the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Grant County.
When Grant County was formed in 1820, William Arnold offered land for the county seat. Arnold was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and settled in the area in 1795. The town built there was named after him when it incorporated in 1825.
The county grew slowly, reaching a population of just 281 by 1870. The Cincinnati Southern Railway was built through the county in 1877, and Williamstown Lake was created in 1957. Finally, Interstate 75 was built in the 1960s.
Williamstown is located east of the center of Grant County at 38°38′28″N 84°33′39″W / 38.64111°N 84.56083°W / 38.64111; -84.56083 (38.641184, -84.560920). It is bordered to the north by the city of Dry Ridge. The city limits extend northeast 5 miles (8 km) along Falmouth Road and East Fairview Road to slightly enter Pendleton County. Interstate 75 passes through the west side of the city, with access from Exits 154 and 156. I-75 leads north 37 miles (60 km) to Cincinnati and south 45 miles (72 km) to Lexington. U.S. Route 25 passes through the center of Williamstown as Main Street; US 25 leads north 11 miles (18 km) to Crittenden and south the same distance to Corinth.
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