Choosing the Best Online Criminal Justice Degree Program

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Have you been curious about a career in the criminal justice system? Are brochures regarding a criminal justice degree tempting, but you don’t have the time to attend traditional classes? A degree in criminal justice offers some of the most stable and challenging careers in our modern industries; however, if you’re unable to attend a traditional college or university, you may feel this career option is out of your hands. While obtaining a two or four-year degree in criminal justice is a requirement to enter many criminal justice career paths, there are options in exactly how you may obtain this complex education.

Online criminal justice degree programs offer the same caliber of schooling as a traditional “brick and mortar” school, but with greater flexibility, and often, less expensive. While this is a viable option for many, there are several considerations you should keep an eye out when selecting the best online criminal justice degree program. Specialization options exist as well, including the option to earn your guard card online through a series of BSIS approved classes.

Understanding the Difference in Schooling

If you’re interested in getting an online degree, it’s vital that you understand the difference between a traditional on-campus program and a virtual program. Perhaps the only notable difference between an online and on-campus degree program is the scheduling and interactions between students and faculty. Online programs offer significantly greater flexibility in terms of when you actually “attend” a class. Instead of rigid scheduling, online courses are often completed at your leisure, with the only time requirement being assignments and tests.

The Cornerstone of an Online Education – School Accreditation

With seemingly endless “online schools,” it can become difficult trying to interpret the best and most reliable educational institutions. Before ever looking at program options, it’s essential that you double-check the school’s accreditation. It’s essential that the program you choose is accredited by not only your state, but also by the U.S. Department of Education as well as by private accrediting organizations designed to oversee coursework for particular programs.

While there are many “for profit” online training institutions, it seems that the most developed and respected criminal justice degree programs come from “nonprofit” colleges and universities. By selecting a nonprofit college or university, you’re ensuring that all educational materials are produced to actually enlighten your mind, and not the wallets of administrators and institution CEOs.

If you’re wondering whether or not a particular school is worth your time, conduct an online search, or use a school finder app from a company like Security Guard Training Central. If this still does not answer your questions, one of the most effective ways to weed out sub-par schools is by communicating with your State Department of Education. Typically, this organization will provide you with a list of the best colleges and universities that offer online programs. When in doubt, visit a counselor at your local community college or university. Even if they do not offer online programs, they have access to information designed to streamline your hunt.


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Advanced Paralegal Certification Specialties

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the paralegal profession is your ability to specialize in specific sections of laws or industries. While you may not be required to obtain a certification in order to work within a specialty industry, obtaining a quick paralegal certification is considered the best way to clearly demonstrate the depth of your working knowledge within the realm of its specialization.

The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) is one of the most well-respected certifying bodies offering certification specialties within the paralegal field. It’s important to note that the eligibility requirements for each specialization may vary. As of April 2016, there are a total of 26 various practice areas you may obtain a certificate in.

NALA Advanced Paralegal Certification Specialties

The-National-Association-of-Legal-AssistantsAs mentioned earlier, there are a total of 26 specializations you may become certified in. If you’re searching for a way to truly transform your career and enhance your marketability to employers, completed an appropriate certification may be your ideal choice. The following are some of the most popular certification specializations offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants:

Contracts Management and Contracts Administration | Paralegals with this certificate are able to specialize within the realm of contracts for a variety of industries. This is an excellent certificate for those who work in the real estate and insurance industries as contracts consist of much of the legal work within these professions.

Social Security Disability | Whether you work in a private law practice or in the government sector, a certificate in social security disability is an excellent way to progress and demonstrate your professionalism within this scope of practice.

Trial Practice | If you’re employed by a trial lawyer, then completing this certification examination greatly enhances your understanding and proficiency within this unique scope of law. Because trial lawyers are often under strict deadlines, completing this certification can boost your efficiency in research and communication skills.

Trademarks | Those who are employed in the trademark industry should actively seek out this certification as it clearly demonstrates your proficiency within the often complex work dealings in the trademarks industry.

Personal Industry | The National Association of Legal Assistants offers two personal injury certifications specializations. These include Personal Injury Core Course, which covers the more generalized industry of the personal injury legal field. Those who are looking to enhance their understanding and ability within this scope of practice should complete the 9 Practice Area Courses within the Personal Injury certification.

Commercial Bankruptcy | Those who are employed in the legal financial industry may wish to further enhance their marketability to the commercial financial sector by completing this certification course. Within this scope of practice you’ll sharpen your ability to navigate the complex commercial bankruptcy legal practice industry.

National Association of Legal Assistants Paralegal Certification Eligibility Requirements

Whether you’re looking to enter the exciting field of a paralegal or wish to enhance your progression within this career field, a paralegal certification offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants is an excellent avenue to explore. This nationally recognized paralegal certificate clearly demonstrates your ability and talent within this dynamic profession. Because of this, many employers require paralegals to obtain this certificate in order to be considered for a promotion or even placement within the law firm.

The Certified Paralegal examination offered by NALA covers five primary knowledge and skill sections. These include: Communications, Ethics, Judgment/Analytical Ability, Legal Research as well as Substantive Law. Upon successfully completing this certification examination, your skills and ability to succeed in this profession is clearly demonstrated.

NALA-ManualIf you’re interested in taking the National Association of Legal Assistants Paralegal Certification, then you must ensure you meet its various eligibility requirements. As with other national paralegal certifications, there are many ways one can become eligible to sit for the examination. These include:

1.) Obtaining a bachelor’s degree within the realm of paralegal studies (also referred to as legal assistant studies). This pathway doesn’t require any work experience or additional certifications.

2.) Completing a bachelor’s degree in any field of study and completing a paralegal studies certificate program.

3.) Earning a bachelor’s degree in ny field of study as well as holding a minimum of one year work experience as a paralegal or legal assistant. However, if you’ve completed a minimum of 15 hours of legal courses, you may substitute the one year work experience.

4.) Completing an associate degree in paralegal studies, which does not require additional work experience or paralegal training.

5.) Successfully completing a paralegal studies program accredited by the American Bar Association. In order to meet this eligibility requirement you must complete a minimum of 60 or more credit hours; with 15 of these hours covering substantive legal topics.

6.) If you only have a high school diploma or a GED, you may quality to sit for the NALA Paralegal Certificate by holding a minimum of seven years work within the legal setting as a paralegal or a legal assistant. Along with the work experience, you must have also completed a minimum of 20 continuing education credits within the realm of legal studies within a timespan of two years prior to sitting for the certification examination.

A Basic Overview of Paralegal Organizations

As with many other professions, the paralegal industry is one guided by various professional organizations and associations. The purpose of these organizations is to ensure a uniform operation among all paralegals. Because this industry is one established upon specific philosophies and legalities, these associations ensure paralegals not only conduct themselves in a standardized way, but that they are also protected.

While you may think the primary responsibility of a paralegal organization is to simply provide certification to these professionals, its actual purpose is far greater. These organizations are gathered around the cornerstone of career advancement and progression of your working knowledge. They often offer continuing education courses, which now include the option to gain your paralegal certificate online, expanding your working knowledge within specific topics as well as trade papers discussing the most essential information for a paralegal.

If you’re interested in solidifying your career as a paralegal and wish to progress your working knowledge, then you’ll need to understand the various organizations who are nationally recognized. These organizations include:

National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)

nfpa-logoThe National Federation of Paralegal Associations is a no n-profit association established in 1974 to monitor the ethics and legislation regarding the paralegal profession. AS with many other national paralegal associations and organizations, NFPA works hand-in-hand with the American Bar Association as well as other national organizations to offer 360-degree coverage within the paralegal industry.

Of course, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations offers various certification examinations. These examinations are recognized as the leading model for categorizing and demonstrating the aptitude of a working paralegals. Because of this, many employers highly recommend obtaining an NFPA certification.

National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)

With a membership roster boasting over 18,000 paralegals, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) offers world-class certification programs, continuing education opportunities and other training modules to keep you on the cutting edge of this dynamic industry. If you’re searching for a certification to truly enhance your marketability and skills within this profession, then the Certified Paralegal Certificate is your ideal choice. This unique certification is recognized and accredited by the American Bar Association.

In order to become eligible for this certification, you must meet one of the several eligibility requirements. These vary according to education level, previous certifications and work experience. If you’re looking to enhance your marketability to employers or demonstrate your above-average understanding of this industry, then this is the professional organization for you.

National Paralegal Association (NPA)

Unlike many of the other professional organizations for paralegals, the National Paralegal Association is actually an international organization. The primary purpose of this association is to develop and implement programs and other various benefits for individual paralegals as well law firms, corporate legal departments and other organizations within this profession. The greatest benefit of the NPA is its ability to provide member with a host of employment opportunities and exclusive networking events.

What Job Functions Can a Paralegal Perform

When it comes to working as a paralegal, there is often some misunderstandings. Although these professionals work closely within the legal system, their scope of practice is quite different than a lawyer. If you’re interested in becoming a paralegal, then it’s essential that you understand what you are legally allowed to do in a workplace. Even if you’re already working as a paralegal, this knowledge can help keep you out of legal trouble should your employer wish you to perform a duty that’s unacceptable.

Legally Accepted Paralegal Job Duties

Paralegal JobThe following are legally accepted paralegal job duties as outlined by the American Bar Association. It’s important to understand the complete list of job functions. Therefore, it’s suggested to contact the American Bar Association or your state bar association for a list of paralegal job duties.

Factual Investigation/Research | Under the supervision of a licensed attorney, a paralegal is allowed to undertake factual investigative techniques. This may include utilizing digital and hardcopy reference materials or interviewing clients and other professionals. However, if you must interact with clients you are subject to specific rules as to what extent your relationship may be.

Preparing Legal Letters | As a paralegal, you’ll be responsible for drafting and reviewing a wide variety of legal letters. This job function is allowed under the direct supervision of an attorney. Of course, you may not alter any legal document without the written consent of your lawyer.

Client Relations | It’s generally accepted that a paralegal may be responsible for cultivating a healthy relationship between a law firm and a client. The attorney-client relationship is essential to ensure clear communication. However, in large legal firms, it’s not uncommon to be the primary point of contact between the firm and the client. You’ll be responsible for gathering information and answering questions.

Clerical Duties | Part of the job as a paralegal is to keep the law firm organized and flowing as needed. Because of this, the primary job function of a paralegal may be more of an administrative or clerical role. This is generally assigned to new paralegals who are fresh out of training. If you wish to hold a greater role within the law office, continuing education and earning certifications is typically the best pathway.

Considerations | It’s important to note that a paralegal cannot actually practice law or behave as an attorney. Doing so is illegal and can land you in some serious trouble. However, your employer is primarily responsible for ensuring your job functions do not extend beyond the legal limits.