How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Whitney Texas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Whitney TX and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Whitney homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Texas Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Whitney TX attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for Whitney TX attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many Whitney TX area community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Texas to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 Whitney TX area program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning 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 Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular in Whitney TX and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at Whitney TX area community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Whitney TX law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Texas paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since Whitney TX employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other Whitney TX legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Whitney TX legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in Texas or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local Whitney TX legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Whitney TX. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Whitney TX, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Ideal Legal Assistant Training near Whitney TX
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying 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 Whitney home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational 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 broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Whitney TX.
More About Whitney Texas
Lake Whitney (Texas)
Lake Whitney is a flood control reservoir on the main stem of the Brazos River in Texas. It is located on River Mile Marker 442 and controls drainage for 17,656 square miles (45,730 km2) of Texas and parts of New Mexico. The reservoir encompasses a surface area of more than 23,500 acres and 225 miles (362 km) of shoreline. The area consists of rolling, tallgrass prairies; cedar trees; hardwood timber; and 100 ft (30 m) bluffs and rock points. Lake Whitney is also part of the Texas Lakes Trail Region of North Texas.
1940s: The plan to create the Whitney Reservoir (Lake Whitney) on the Brazos River for flood control and other purposes, such as hydro-electric power development, was approved and authorized by Congress in 1944. The dam construction started in 1947 and lasted four years.
1950s: In 1951, the lake was impounded. The dam's power plant was under construction from 1951 to 1953. After a record-breaking drought in Texas during the 1950s, there was an emphasis on reservoirs serving a secondary purpose, with the primary one being flood control, as water storage facilities for Texas residents, communities, businesses, agriculture, and others.
Lake Whitney is a year-round destination for Texas residents due to the abundance of water sports and activities all ages can enjoy and its proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth along the Interstate 35 Corridor. The most popular activities at the lake include fishing, boating, sailing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, water skiing, hunting, and golf. The area was designated as the Getaway Capital of Texas by the Texas Legislature in 2005.
Related Cities in Texas