How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Superior Montana
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Superior MT and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within commuting range of their Superior homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Montana Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals 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 are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Superior MT lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for Superior MT lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many Superior MT area community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Montana to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 Superior MT area program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common in Superior MT and may be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, such as 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 might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at Superior MT area junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to consider also, including 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 investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Superior MT law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Montana paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since Superior MT employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other Superior MT legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the 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 pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably 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 placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Superior MT legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Montana or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area Superior MT legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish 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 length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Superior MT. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Superior MT, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Legal Assistant College near Superior MT
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Superior residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Superior MT.
More About Superior Montana
Superior was named after its founders' hometown of Superior, Wisconsin in 1869. The post office was established in 1871 after Mineral County became the site of one of the largest gold strikes that helped settle the West.
Superior is located within the Bitterroot Range of mountains. The Clark Fork flows through downtown, heading north towards St. Regis, Montana and ultimately emptying into Lake Pend Oreille near Cabinet, Idaho. The mountains to the west of Superior along the Montana/Idaho border receive a large amount of precipitation annually, mostly due to the amount of snow in the winter months. Nearby Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area receives about 400 in (1,000 cm) of snow each winter. The snow pack melts throughout the spring and summer months, feeding the many mountain streams and creeks with water. All of the water eventually reaches the Clark Fork in the valley below, where Superior is located.
As of the census of 2010, there were 812 people, 386 households, and 220 families residing in the town. The population density was 773.3 inhabitants per square mile (298.6/km2). There were 431 housing units at an average density of 410.5 per square mile (158.5/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 93.8% White, 0.7% African American, 1.2% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.
There were 386 households of which 20.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.0% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.0% were non-families. 37.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.05 and the average family size was 2.64.
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