NUMBER OF WORDS: 463
KEYWORD: “Paralegal School” = 12
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The demand for paralegals and legal assistants is ever growing. Their responsibilities encompass almost all aspects of lawyering, including drafting important legal documents, writing affidavits and pleading, the bulk of legal and factual research, documentary analysis and organization, and other tasks that a lawyer would delegate to a legal assistant.
It is an exciting career that a paralegal has. However, while there are no current laws that regulate the licensing of paralegals and legal assistants, many employers require a minimum of two years of formal paralegal education.
Evaluating Paralegal Schools
Choosing the right paralegal school is your first step to building a career in paralegal profession. Consider the following nine questions when you go through the selection process:
* What is the reputation of the paralegal school as well as the paralegal program? There are many paralegal schools and educational institutions that are offering paralegal programs, yet only few of these have a reputation for producing paralegals and legal assistants who have the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of the paralegal profession. As such, it is important that when you choose a paralegal school, choose one that has a good reputation not only to the public in general but also to the legal community as a whole.
* What student assistance programs are included? A good paralegal school should provide assistance in these areas: orientation, academic counseling, tutoring, career information and counseling, financial aid, and placement assistance. In addition, information on the placement rate and job satisfaction of graduates is likewise important.
* What facilities are offered by the paralegal school? Some facilities that should be included in the programs are legal research libraries, computer laboratories, and properly furnished classrooms. There should also be facilities for students with disabilities.
* What activities are available to students? Since the ultimate purpose of paralegal schools is to produce paralegals and legal assistants who are competent in their chosen career fields, then students of these schools should be given ample opportunity to participate in activities where they are exposed to different aspects of the legal community. Examples are honor societies and volunteer work.
* What is the mission of the paralegal school and what are the goals of the program? This and other pertinent information about the paralegal school should be clearly stated in the program literature. Try to examine whether or not the mission and goals match your individual needs.
* What is the curriculum? This involves an examination of the nature and content involved. Be mindful that a good paralegal school should not only teach practical job skills but also underlying legal theory. The courses should typically cover important aspects of the paralegal profession, such as legal research and writing, litigation, ethics, contracts, business organizations, torts, critical thinking, communication, etc.