How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Youngstown Ohio
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Youngstown OH and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely 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 at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Youngstown residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Ohio Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill 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 Youngstown OH lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- 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 other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for Youngstown OH lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous Youngstown OH area community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Ohio to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 Youngstown OH area program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent in Youngstown OH and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance 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 might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at Youngstown OH area junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to think about also, including 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 investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Youngstown OH law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Ohio paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since Youngstown OH employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other Youngstown OH legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Youngstown OH legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in Ohio or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area Youngstown OH legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within your local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Youngstown OH. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Youngstown OH, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Find the Best Paralegal Training near Youngstown OH
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Youngstown residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and 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 opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Youngstown OH.
More About Youngstown Ohio
Youngstown is a city in and the county seat of Mahoning County in the U.S. state of Ohio, with small portions extending into Trumbull County. According to the 2010 Census, Youngstown had a city proper population of 66,982, while the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area it anchors contained 565,773 people in Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania.
Youngstown is located on the Mahoning River, approximately 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Cleveland and 61 miles (100 km) northwest of Pittsburgh. Despite having its own media market, Youngstown is often included in commercial and cultural depictions of both Northeast Ohio as well as the Pittsburgh Tri-State Area due to these proximities. Youngstown lies 10 miles (16 km) west of the Pennsylvania state line, midway between New York City and Chicago via Interstate 80.
The city was named for John Young, an early settler from Whitestown, New York, who established the community's first sawmill and gristmill. Youngstown is in a region of America that is often referred to as the Rust Belt. Traditionally known as a center of steel production, Youngstown was forced to redefine itself when the U.S. steel industry fell into decline in the 1970s, leaving communities throughout the region without major industry. The city has experienced a decline of over 60% of its population since 1959. Youngstown also falls within the Appalachian Ohio region, among the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Youngstown was named for New York native John Young, who surveyed the area in 1796 and settled there soon after. On February 9, 1797, Young purchased the township of 15,560 acres (6,300 ha) from the Western Reserve Land Company for $16,085. The 1797 establishment of Youngstown was officially recorded on August 19, 1802.
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