If you are considering a career as a paralegal or legal secretary, you won’t get very far without some kind of higher education. You won’t have to go on and pass the bar like a full partner, but a simple high school education will almost never work for a career in law.
Fortunately, the answer might be closer to home than you think. North Seattle College is home to an affordable number of legal programs. Once you find your niche, you’ll be on your way to working with a firm as a legal secretary or paralegal.
What Should I Know about North Seattle College?
North Seattle College (referred to simply as “North” by students) is located between two major highways, I-5 and Highway 99. It opened its doors in 1970, and about 14,000 students attend the college each year. Because this is a community college, you won’t be taking out a second mortgage just to fund your education. The programs at North are incredibly affordable compared to 4-year degrees at larger universities.
If you decide to continue your legal studies, you can take the credits you earn at North and transfer them directly to the University of Washington. You’ll earn an excellent salary coming out of North with a certificate or degree.
What Legal Programs Exist at North Seattle College?
The Center for Legal Studies at North contains several options for students who plan to pursue a career as a paralegal. You can take individual courses to supplement your ongoing studies, or you can enter one of the certificate programs. Check out all of the options below and see which one is right for you.
One of the main courses in any legal studies program, the Paralegal Certificate Course is available in three different formats. North students can choose to take this through text, on disc, or online. This program gets students ready for many of the duties that will fall under the job description for a paralegal, including witness interviews, pattern investigation, and document preparation.
All of the textbooks and materials needed for any of the three formats are available through links on the North website. Think of the Paralegal Certificate Course as your gateway to greater things in the legal field. The core material in this course introduces you to other opportunities for advanced study in the same subject.
Legal Secretary Certificate
For those in the professional administrative fields who want to expand their existing knowledge, this course is for you. You’ll cover legal terminology, ethics, proper procedures for filing, and citation formats for legal writing.
The first lesson in this certificate program from North involves an introduction to law theory. From here, you will cover specific types of legal terminology that you encounter as a legal secretary. In the next lesson, you will learn how to properly manage a law office. You can see specific examples of court documents and what you’ll need to do with them in the office.
The last section goes over management techniques. You will understand how to go through billing procedures, and what possibilities are out there for job openings. You may be asked to do some legal research as part of a final lesson.
Legal Investigation Certificate
If you are already employed in the legal field, this course is designed to help you advance your career in investigations. You’ll cover a basic introduction to the legal system in the first lesson, followed by the ethics of an investigator. Evidence and court rules are also explained in the introductory lesson of the legal investigation certificate program.
From here, you’ll get into the techniques used for interviews and investigations. AS an investigator, you’ll need to be able to follow up on leads and find sources of information throughout your career. You can explore forensic photography and how to perform accurate surveillance.
When you finish the legal investigation, program, you’ll find several advanced topics in your studies. Investigation of different government levels and equity analysis are just a couple of the areas you’ll study before earning your legal investigation certificate.
Advanced Legal Research and Writing
Maybe you do your best work outside of the courtroom and in the library. If this fits your description, check out the Advanced Legal Research and Writing program at North Seattle College. You’ll find out the differences between computer-assisted research and simply using books on your own. Part of this program involves the learning and understanding of Westlaw, the main legal research platform used by lawyers and paralegals throughout the United States.
By completing this program, you’ll become an expert in legal analysis and many different types of legal writing. Writing styles in the legal field have different standards than other formats such as AP, Chicago, or APA. You can learn how to draft a Memorandum of Law, and how to interpret different types of legal authorities. The knowledge you gain from this program will be invaluable to the firm you serve in your career.
Legal Nurse Consultant
Are you an RN or NA, and think that your employment opportunities could use a boost? This specialization is designed for nurses who want to work outside of a clinical setting. You can learn a wide variety of interesting topics during this program. By completing the Legal Nurse Consultant program, you’ll learn how to work in medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, and worker’s compensation.
Nurses who finish the Legal Nurse Consultant program can find employment opportunities in law firms and insurance companies. You could also still work in a hospital while moving to a different department, trading in your scrubs for a business suit.
While this program does not count as academic credit that will show on transcripts for other schools, it might work toward continuing nursing education. Check with your state’s licensing and certification board to see if this program will work for you.
If you have already completed the Paralegal program, the Advanced Paralegal certificate allows you to specialize in several branches of the legal field. By choosing one of the areas offered in the Advanced Paralegal course, you’ll stand out among your peers when looking for employment as a paralegal. Completing 6 of the 14 available topics will earn you the certificate for the program.
Some of the advanced topic areas in this certificate program are real property law, estate planning, education law, and victim advocacy. The books and other materials required to purchase will change depending on which topics you choose.
How Can I Apply to North Seattle College?
Unlike many other colleges and universities, North Seattle College does not charge an application fee. You’ll need to determine your status as an in-state or out-of-state student before starting your application, as this will change your tuition and fee cost. You can attend North in person or opt for online courses for many programs.
Like any other community college or university, North will require you to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as the state equivalent (WASFA) for financial aid purposes. If you have no previous degrees, you can be eligible for grants to finance your education. After this, you’ll determine what student loans might be available for you to use to pay tuition.
What Else Can I Do at North Seattle College?
Once you have chosen your career path with the Center for Legal Studies, you can find other courses you might be interested in taking. Most degree programs have general education requirements, allowing you to explore topics you might wish to study outside of your declared field.
North has departments in everything from accounting to information technology. There are also technical and vocational courses available to North that you won’t find at the university level. While you’re studying to become a legal professional, you can also learn how to work on air conditioners, broadband cables, or other areas in administration.
Starting Your Career at North Seattle College
Community colleges are often overlooked when choosing a destination for higher education. Even though they have the same qualified staff as bigger universities, their smaller campuses and intimate student population gives off the impression that they are inferior to larger institutions of research.
North Seattle College’s Center for Legal Studies is a fantastic example of a hidden treasure of education right in what could be your backyard. Whether you live in Seattle or across the country, the programs for paralegals and legal secretaries at this college are wonderful choices. You can begin a whole new career or cement your area of expertise in the legal field you already call home.
If you are considering a life change and want to become a paralegal, North Seattle has everything you need to begin a new job search. Combine their excellent education programs and the partnerships they have between other universities and employers, and you’re looking at a bright future. The only thing between you and advancing in the legal field is applying to the Center for Legal Studies at North.