How to Select a Paralegal College near Waterford Michigan
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Waterford MI and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for schools within commuting range of their Waterford residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Michigan Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Waterford MI attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for Waterford MI lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous Waterford MI area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Michigan to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited Waterford MI area school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent in Waterford MI and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can 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 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 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 earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at Waterford MI area community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues 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 programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Waterford MI law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Michigan legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since Waterford MI employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine 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 graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other Waterford MI legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the legal community. 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 entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement 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 Waterford MI legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Michigan or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area Waterford MI legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within your local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Waterford MI. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Waterford MI, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Paralegal Program near Waterford MI
Selecting the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Waterford home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. 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 school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Waterford MI.
More About Waterford Michigan
Waterford Township, Michigan
In 1818, Oliver Williams selected land in Oakland County which he purchased for two dollars an acre. Archibald Phillips and Alpheus Williams purchased 161.40 acres (653,200 m2) in what later became Waterford Village.
In 1819, Alpheus Williams and Archibald Phillips continued on to where the Clinton River crossed the old Saginaw Trail (now known as Dixie Highway). They settled at the site of the present Waterford Village. Here the first house of Waterford Village was built by Alpheus Williams on the north bank of the river. Archibald Phillips built his home across from the south corner where Andersonville Road meets Dixie Highway.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 35.3 square miles (91 km2), of which 31.3 square miles (81 km2) is land and 4.0 square miles (10 km2), or 11.22%, is water.
Like the rest of Southeast Michigan, Waterford Township has a continental climate. It has a higher elevation than Detroit (982 feet (299 m) compared to 585 feet (178 m)), and therefore the township is somewhat cooler than Detroit and other nearby cities. It is moderately cold in the winter with varied snowfall throughout. Spring varies from warm by day to cool at night. The township's warmest weather occurs in the summer with temperatures in the eighty to ninety degree range and typically high humidity. Summer is also the wettest season in the area. In recent years, Waterford Township has seen a few 100-plus degree days. Fall starts warm, but November ends with high temperatures barely above freezing.
Related Cities in Michigan