How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Waldoboro Maine
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Waldoboro ME and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Waldoboro residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Maine Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job positions and functions, just 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Waldoboro ME lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for Waldoboro ME attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education 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 fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous Waldoboro ME area community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Maine to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited Waldoboro ME area program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent in Waldoboro ME and may be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes 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 programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at Waldoboro ME area community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential 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 significant factors to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Waldoboro ME law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Maine legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since Waldoboro ME employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing 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 contact several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other Waldoboro ME legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Waldoboro ME legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Maine or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local Waldoboro ME legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained 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 aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Waldoboro ME. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Waldoboro ME, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Ideal Legal Assistant Program near Waldoboro ME
Selecting the right 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 at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Waldoboro home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, 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 profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Waldoboro ME.
More About Waldoboro Maine
In 1629 the area that would become Waldoboro was granted to John Beauchamp of London and Thomas Leverett of Boston, England and was known as the Muscongus Patent. The patent lay dormant until 1719 when Leverett’s great-grandson, John Leverett, President of Harvard College, revived the ancient claim and formed the Lincolnshire Proprietors, also known as the Ten Proprietors, so named for the ten shares distributed, one to each member. General Samuel Waldo of Boston acquired a controlling interest in the patent in 1729 and it henceforward become known as the Waldo Patent.
First called Broad Bay, the village was settled between 1733 and 1740, but suffered a devastating attack as part of the Northeast Coast Campaign (1746) by Native Americans allied with New France during King George's War. Houses were burned and inhabitants killed or carried away as captives. Survivors fled to the nearby settlements of St. George or Pemaquid. Peace returned with the 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
In 1752–1753, Samuel Waldo, son of the general Jonathan Waldo, visited Germany and recruited about 1,500 immigrants to Waldoboro on the ship Lydia. Some were followers of Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli but they did not immigrate for religious reasons like the Pilgrims but for "...increasing their worldly goods.", most from the Rhineland. Waldo hired Sebastian Zouberbuhler as an agent. Many settled on the western side of Broad Bay, although in 1763–1764 the land was claimed under the Pemaquid Patent. About 300 residents moved to the Moravian settlements in what is now Forsyth County, North Carolina, but the remainder bought their properties. On June 29, 1773, the township was incorporated as Waldoborough, named for the original proprietor.
Waldoboro became county seat of Lincoln County in 1786, but the designation would shift to Wiscasset in 1880. Farms produced hay and potatoes. The Knox and Lincoln Railroad arrived and spurred the town's development. Industries would include an iron foundry, an oakum mill, a carding and cloth-dressing mill, a grain mill, sawmills and planing mills, furniture and molding mills, a door, sash and blind factory, and a carriage factory. There were also marble and granite yards and a pottery. But ship building was the principal business, with eight large vessels built in 1880. During the 19th century Maine became famous for its great shipbuilding center. Waldoboro was the launching port for the Governor Ames in 1888, the first five masted schooner. The Governor Ames was built in Waldoboro's Leavitt Storer Shipyard. A port of entry, the town features an 1857 custom house designed by Ammi B. Young.
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