How to Pick a Paralegal School near Waterflow New Mexico
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Waterflow NM and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Waterflow homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
New Mexico Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Waterflow NM attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for Waterflow NM lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many Waterflow NM area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New Mexico to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 Waterflow NM area school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available in Waterflow NM and can be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at Waterflow NM area junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Waterflow NM law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the New Mexico paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since Waterflow NM employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program 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 confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating 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 exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other Waterflow NM legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Waterflow NM legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in New Mexico or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area Waterflow NM legal community, possibly 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 attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within your local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Waterflow NM. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Waterflow NM, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Legal Assistant Training near Waterflow NM
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Waterflow residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective 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 assess each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Waterflow NM.
More About Waterflow New Mexico
Waterflow, New Mexico
Waterflow is an unincorporated community in San Juan County, New Mexico, United States on the north side of the San Juan River. It is immediately west of Fruitland and north across the river from the Navajo Nation. It is east of Shiprock.
The area now known as Waterflow is traditional Navajo territory. This place was called Chʼį́įdii Łichííʼ (Red Devil) in reference to Walter Stallings who operated a trading post in the area; nowadays, Tséyaa Akʼahí (beneath-rock oil) seems to be another designation in reference to the nearby oil fields, as can be seen on billboards in the area (pictured).
The early Anglo settlers in this area named the place "Jewett Valley", and established Jewett Valley Cemetery as early as 1886. Although some reports say these pioneers were predominantly Catholic, one of the earliest families to be buried in this cemetery, the Hunts, have long been LDS.
Catholicism in Waterflow, New Mexico dates from February 22, 1912, when the first Mass was celebrated there in makeshift quarters. Three young men, Joseph and Lorenzo Stallings of Kentucky and David Watson of Georgia, Catholics, were among the pioneer settlers of the region. They called on the Franciscan Fathers at Farmington for help in establishing a church at Waterflow, which they called “Kentucky Mesa.” Sacred Heart Church was dedicated May 16, 1917.
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