3 Tips for Legal Research

Paralegals are to attorneys what nurses are to doctors; basically, attorneys and doctors would have a very difficult time doing their jobs without the support paralegals and nurses provide!

One of the ways paralegals support attorneys is by doing legal research. Legal research is the important foundational work to building strong legal cases for clients, and can often be time-consuming and costly, depending on a number of factors. But there are plenty of tips and tricks to becoming an efficient and effective legal researcher!

WHAT IS LEGAL RESEARCH?

Before delving into the tips and tricks, it’s important to understand why good legal research is so important. Cornell Law says, the purpose of legal research is to find ‘authority’ that will aid in finding a solution to a legal problem.” This authority can come in the form of “primary authorities,” which are the rules of law, and “secondary authorities,” which are the commentaries on the laws. Being able to support a client’s case with superior legal authorities can often make or break a case.

While pursuing a degree or certification in paralegal studies, you will have at least one course in legal research. In a legal research course, you will learn the necessary research tools and techniques to find actual laws, along with various secondary materials that help in the research process. Law firms and other legal organizations often use online databases like LexisNexis and WestLaw to help in the research process. However, these subscription databases can be costly, especially if you’re not well-acquainted with a particular area of law.

3 TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR LEGAL RESEARCH:

Develop a list of keywords, phrases, and terms. This is especially helpful if you are researching a topic you are unfamiliar with. Write these down, and narrow your list as you go and become more acquainted with the law at hand.

Use Google Scholar before legal databases. Legal databases, like the ones mentioned above, often charge on the number of searches and documents clicked, depending on your subscription plan. Start with Google Scholar and other free resources to narrow down what you are looking for before using a paid legal database.

Contact a representative/librarian for the paid legal database you subscribe to. Many of these databases provide help via legal librarians or representatives who can help you with your search – for no extra fees! Give them a call and ask for help narrowing down your topic and resources. They can help you find the exact documents you need while being more time and cost efficient.

Your legal research professor will teach you the many of the ins and outs of research techniques, resources, and materials, but they are constricted by limited class time, so don’t be afraid to venture out on your own and figure out better research methods. One of the keys to being an indispensable paralegal is feeling comfortable figuring things out on your own and being resourceful; these traits will serve you well in every facet of your legal career.

If you’re interested in pursuing a paralegal degree or certification, visit www.theparalegalinstitute.edu today! With over 50 years of experience in training paralegals, you can expect an excellent education that will lead to excellent employment options.  

Three Tips for Succeeding in Distance Learning

Handling life and work can be a balancing act at the best of times, and a full-on circus when you throw school into the mix. It sounds intimidating, but it is not impossible; thousands of people do it every day, and you can be one of them. The fulfillment and rewards that come from going back to school are immeasurable, and you will never regret expanding your horizons.

If you’ve decided to go back to school via distance learning, you might be searching for some tips on how to succeed in an online classroom environment. And we are here to help!

1. Know Your Limits

When you first start out, you must be realistic with yourself, your goals, and your expectations. How busy is your life? How flexible is your job? How many classes at a time can you handle? If you have never taken an online course before, consider starting out with one class to get used to distance learning. Speaking with a student advisor at your school can help you decide what the best course of action is.

Some distance learning schools are structured so that you don’t have to worry about taking more than one class. At Brighton, programs are created specifically for students to take one class per session, with 6-8 weeks to complete it on their own time. This allows for greater flexibility and is perfect for students who have more demanding schedules, but does require some discipline so you don’t procrastinate!

2. Be Disciplined in Your Studies

Speaking of discipline: all education paths, no matter where you go to school, require a certain degree of discipline to succeed and graduate. Taking your classes online doesn’t change this; in fact, it can require more discipline and accountability than in-person classes! Since you do not interact with your professors or fellow students face-to-face, it can be easy to procrastinate. Allowing yourself some grace if life gets crazy is one of the perks of online schooling, but don’t let it become a habit.

To help stay on track, it’s important to treat studying like a job. This is your education—you are paying for it, and you will get out of it what you put into it. So take advantage of the resources and knowledge your school and professors offer! You are investing in yourself by pursuing further education, and you want a good return on that investment.

3. Engage with the Material

Sometimes, you don’t have it in you to give your full attention to your classes. You had a long day, a lot of unexpected stress occurred, etc. And that’s normal—nobody can run at 100% all the time. But don’t let yourself continually go through the motions of your online coursework. As mentioned above, you are paying for this and investing in yourself for a better future; engage with the material!

Do the reading and the homework and ask your professor questions. Occasionally quiz yourself while going over the material, to ensure you are absorbing what’s being taught. Take handwritten notes and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. On the class discussion board, interact with your classmates and write meaningful replies.

Keep these three tips in mind as you start your distance learning journey and you will stay on the road to success. Create strategies that work for you and adapt as necessary. Most of all, never be afraid to ask for help! Whether it’s from your student advisor or your professor, everyone at the school is there to support you.

If you’re interested in pursuing distance learning, check out our programs at www.brightoncollege.edu and experience the Brighton difference!

Interview with Dr. Daniel Marco, Professor at The Paralegal Institute

When starting a new class, meeting the professor can be daunting—you know very little about the instructor, their teaching style, or what their class will be like. If this is true for brick-and-mortar colleges, it can be doubly so for online classes! But there are real people behind the computer screen who are rooting for you to succeed as a student and, eventually, as a professional in your chosen field.

To mitigate some of the apprehension of not knowing your instructors, we did a short interview with one of our paralegal professors. Dr. Daniel Marco is an attorney, and when he is not running his law practice, he is sharing his passion for the law with our paralegal program students. By his own words his second love is teaching, so spoiler alert: He definitely wants you to succeed! His answers will give you insight into what he’s like as an instructor, and a little bit of what you can expect as a student at The Paralegal Institute.

  1. Why did you decide to become an online instructor?

I am an attorney by trade and the practice of law is my calling in life. But I do have a second love and that is teaching. I have a passion for helping facilitating a student’s learning process. In fact, I have lectured at a number of law schools in the US and even at a law school in and a college in China! But the demands of a law practice made anything other than an occasional lecture impossible. About nine years ago I discovered the online education environment and it is an environment that quickly proved perfect for me. It allows me to pick and choose when to work on my practice and when to work on grading assignments and finals. It is just the perfect compromise for me. This also helps me be more empathetic for the time struggles of my students, most of whom work full-time.

  1. What is the best part of being an online instructor for The Paralegal Institute?

The best part of instructing at the Institute is the students. I have many hard-working, bright, and motivated students who are looking for a slight change in the direction of their career. I enjoy their enthusiasm and their no-nonsense approach to the courses. Also, the administrative staff is very helpful. I am not as computer savvy as I once was, computers simply accelerated by me, but the staff is always gentle and patient with me and with my students, they answer my questions and serve the students needs.

  1. Do you have any advice for students who are looking to excel in online classes?

Yes, I do. It’s very simple. Stop. Take a deep breath and relax. Nothing is going to register if you are tense. Always remember what class you are in. What book you are reading. What chapter of the book. And what subsection of that chapter. I always made sure to follow this little meditative process from time to time while studying in law school and for the three Bar Exams I took and passed on the first try each! For example, I might stop every few pages and remind myself that  I am reading the Torts book. I am in the chapter on negligence. I am reading the section on res ipsa loquitur. That is all I have to learn here. Just taking a moment to recall where you are and what you are supposed to be learning will cut back on the noise and, in fact, will streamline your learning process. That is my advice. Since you do not have other students to kick things around with you have to keep tabs on your own focus!

  1. Do you have any advice for people interested in starting a career in the legal field?

Learn to love the law. Learn to explore the grey areas that pop up in every issue. Put aside your judgments of people and the way they act, in the workplace and as your clients, and evaluate everything, according to the law but not until you have thoroughly researched the issue before you. Do not take anything personally. Do not personally attack anyone. If you can do those things, you can’t help but have a successful career as a paralegal and you may want to move on to law school.

While this interview is but a snippet of the wisdom and stories Dr. Marco could share with us about his compelling life and career, we thank him for taking the time to share these answers, and hope they are encouraging to all of our students past, present, and future! It’s easy to say our instructors are invested in your learning, but Dr. Marco’s interview helps illustrate that we truly mean it.

You can check out Dr. Marco’s faculty bio here to learn more about him, and you can visit us at www.theparalegalinstitute.edu to learn more about our paralegal programs!

Find Out if Pursuing a Pharmacy Technician Certification is Right for You!

If you’re looking for a career field that has serious staying power, you can’t go wrong with any position in the healthcare industry. However, a lot of healthcare jobs can require pricey schooling and a few years of experience before employers will even think of hiring you. If you’re interested in the healthcare field but not the years of waiting to be employable, becoming a certified Pharmacy Technician might be the right option for you!

WHAT IS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN?

If you’ve ever ordered and picked up a prescription from a pharmacy, you were most likely helped out by a pharmacy technician. Their jobs involve duties like:  

  • Collecting information to fill prescriptions
  • Measuring out medication amounts
  • Packaging and labeling prescriptions
  • Keeping track of inventory and alerting the pharmacist when medications are low
  • Customer service
  • Processing insurance claims
  • Data entry

Pharmacy techs are the people who keep the pharmacy running smoothly so the pharmacists can do their jobs. In most states, pharmacy techs are also able to compound and mix some medications, under the supervision of the pharmacist. Techs working in a hospital may have slightly different experiences, though, as their duties can include preparing intravenous medications and dispensing drugs to patients in hospital rounds.

WHERE DO THEY WORK?

Pharmacy technicians work anywhere a pharmacist does. This includes traditional drug store pharmacies, grocery store pharmacies, standalone pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, closed-door pharmacies, and compounding pharmacies, to name a few. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacies and drugstores employ 52% of the pharmacy tech workforce, whereas hospitals only employ 16%.

It is important to note that pharmacy techs usually find themselves working on their feet all day, so if you have any physical constraints, this might not be the job for you. Techs can also find themselves working odd hours, depending on when the pharmacy is open and if it’s 24 hours or not.

JOB OUTLOOK

With the aging U.S. population and the rise of chronic illnesses across all age groups, it’s no surprise that the demand for pharmacies is growing along with every other facet of the healthcare industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates employment of pharmacy techs will grow 12% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average of all other jobs. To put that in numbers, in 2016 there were over 400,000 pharmacy techs employed, and that number is projected to grow to over 450,000 in the next seven years. This is up from the projected 9% from 2014 to 2024, this it is likely this number will increase and demand does.

CAREER PATH

Most people, of course, want to keep advancing in their chosen career fields, and those who choose to become pharmacy technicians are no different. While there are not really any hierarchies in the pharmacy tech position, being a certified, experienced pharmacy tech can qualify you to move up to other positions, within a pharmacy setting and in other healthcare positions.

Because of pharmacy technicians’ knowledge of pharmacology and pharmacy operations, starting out as a tech can eventually lead to working for pharmaceutical companies, in hospital inventory management, and in supervisory roles, among other options. It is completely up to you and how much more education you want to pursue based on your experiences as a pharmacy tech. You might even decide to become a pharmacist yourself!

While not every state requires pharmacy techs to be certified, it is important to note that obtaining your certification will broaden your opportunities and increase your salary. If you choose to pursue a certification through Brighton College, we offer up to $150 in vouchers to put towards the exam of your choice. Visit www.brightoncollege.edu or call us at 1-800-354-1254 to learn more about getting your Pharmacy Technician Certification!

Life at Brighton: An Interview with Student Services Coordinator, Military Spouse, and Brighton Student Kaitlin Gerth

 

Choosing to go back to school is a big decision, and choosing which school to attend can be an even bigger one. For military spouses, these choices can be compounded by the uncertainty of your location. Distance education is a great solution to these logistical problems, but you might be nervous over the “distance” part!

That’s why we’re giving you an inside look at what it’s like to be a military spouse, a Brighton student, AND a Brighton employee! Our wonderful Student Services Coordinator, Kaitlin Gerth, answered a few questions about her experiences. Spoiler alert: They might just convince you to give distance learning a try! (If you haven’t already, that is.)

Flexibility is Key

Kaitlin is currently enrolled in our Paralegal Studies program, on top of having a Bachelor’s in Sociology and a Master’s in Education. Her undergraduate degree was entirely brick-and-mortar, which she describes as being good… until she was working two jobs to pay for tuition. She says, “it made it really hard to get to class on time⎯to work on time. So when I went to grad school, I was able to do a lot of it online, and knew if I ever went back to school, I’d do it online.”

When asked about the best part of being a student at Brighton, she says it’s the flexibility: “By working here, I decided to pursue my Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies, and it’s been really helpful to do the work on my time frame instead of someone else’s set schedule.”

Flexibility is a common theme in what she enjoys most about working and studying at Brighton. The best part of working at Brighton is the flexibility and “customer service” aspect of working with the students, she says. Of course, she also enjoys the people she works with and appreciates how her bosses help maintain the flexibility.

Distance Learning as a Military Spouse

Continuing with the flexibility motif, she explains that, as a military spouse, the best part of distance learning is the freedom and flexibility. In her own words:

“…to know that, no matter where we may end up, I can ask for a week or two off for a transition period, then pick back up where I left off. I don’t have to transfer schools and worry about 10,000 pages of paperwork to transfer any credits and whatnot. While traditional programs are super great and really beneficial for students who know they’ll be in the same place for multiple years, military members/spouses get uprooted every 2 years or so, less if they draw short straws, so it’s important to have some level of continuity in their lives, which distance learning definitely provides. I actually have a student that is deploying and he’s able to work on his program in his spare time overseas. Talk about flexibility!”

Brighton’s course freedom has allowed her to pursue her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies without the fear of having to pick up and start over somewhere else. Paralegal Studies is one of our most popular programs, and it has allowed Kaitlin to follow her legal dreams. She says that once she found out the overwhelmingly rigorous process to get into law school, she put a law career on the back burner⎯but the paralegal program has allowed her to chase her childhood dreams, albeit in a different way than she imagined!

Kaitlin’s Top Tips for Exceeding at Online Learning

If you’ve never taken online classes before, you might not know the best ways to stay on track. Thankfully, as a student services coordinator and a distance learning student herself, Kaitlin has some great tips for excelling at distance education. Her top tip? Calendars.

CALENDARS! Oh my gosh, and planners!! I never really paid attention to planners when I was in high school, but I learned VERY quickly in college how beneficial they are. They even became a Christmas tradition in my family–my mom would always get me a really nice planner for the following year. By the end of the year, it was barely hanging on because I live by it, and still do. Mom won’t buy them for me anymore, but as an “adult” (I still don’t believe that), I have to buy my own. I also have multiple calendars around the house, and my husband thinks I’m insane. But, I’m never late on anything. Also, make lists–keep yourself accountable. I have a whiteboard that, daily, I write down everything I need to do that day, and things that, if I have time, I can get to. I prioritize by color and it helps motivate me to keep on task because I also have mild OCD, so going out of order also really bothers me. But, I’m really efficient because of this so it’s weird at first… but once you’re in the groove, it’s like riding a bike!”

If you’re interested in pursuing a degree or certification at Brighton, we hope Kaitlin’s experiences have shown you what a great option it is for those needing flexibility in their lives! For more information, feel free to contact us at www.brightoncollege.edu, or give us a call at 800-354-1254.

Home Inspector Certification: Is It Worth It?

Spoiler alert: it is totally worth it to pursue a home inspector certification.

Real estate, especially the housing market, has been booming in cities across the United States. Because of the increased demand for safe housing (and safe buildings in general), the construction and building inspector industry is seeing above-average growth throughout the country. With the growing demand for home inspectors, getting your home inspector certificate can be a great investment for your career.

JOB DESCRIPTION

As a home inspector, you would perform residential inspections and write up reports on your findings. The inspections are considered to be non-invasive and typically consist of visually inspecting readily accessible areas in the home. This can range from finding old electrical outlet plates that need to be replaced to discovering larger damage, such as wood rot. The scope of the work can be situational, depending on the agreement you and the client come to. After your inspection, you would write up a report on your findings and present them to the client so they can make better-informed decisions.

Home inspectors can also look for violations of building codes, though they do not have the authority to enforce compliance.

It is important for both you and the client to remember and be aware that as a home inspector, you will not find every problem in the home, especially when it comes to non-visible and inaccessible parts of the structure. Your job is to record observations on the day of the inspection, regardless of past and future home conditions.

Current homeowners sometimes hire home inspectors when they are getting ready to put their home on the market and want an objective evaluation of the home’s condition. Prospective buyers will often hire an inspector to ensure they aren’t investing in a residence that has expensive problems that need to be fixed.

INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the industry will grow around 10% from 2016 to 2026, putting it at a faster than average growth rate.  A quick search for home inspection jobs reveals a need in all parts of the country, from Florida to California, for fulltime and contractor work. While some jobs will pay salary or hourly, others pay a set fee per inspection, plus mileage reimbursement.

Those with a background in construction, architecture, or engineering are likely to have better job prospects, though with a home inspection certification you can start working as a freelance home inspector. Attention to detail, the ability to write reports quickly and concisely, and proficiency with technology are all skill-sets that will help set you apart as you apply for employment. Since you will be entering people’s homes, you need to convey a reliable, trustworthy, and ethical demeanor.

SALARY

The median pay for inspectors was $59,090 as of May 2017, with the highest 10% of wages topping out at over $95,340. Your salary will depend on your experience, background, and location, but most job postings advertise salaries ranging from $40,000 to $70,000, with management-level positions reaching six-figures.

With the median salary being nearly $60,000 (and likely to grow), getting your home inspection certification would provide a great return on your investment, as most courses average around $1,100 in tuition.

If you’re interested in starting or switching careers and are interested in construction, consider getting your home inspection certificate.

Brighton College offers a Home Inspection Certification program that can be taken at your own pace, 100% online. Visit this link to check out our program and see if becoming a home inspector is right for you.

Thinking about going into the healthcare industry? Consider becoming a Health Services Manager

While healthcare is a hot topic in American politics right now, the fact is the immense healthcare industry is not going anywhere. This makes it the perfect market to break into! With a healthy (pun intended) industry outlook and the baby boomer generation’s increasing demand for palliative care, getting a degree in health services management is a great career investment.

JOB DESCRIPTION

Health services managers, also referred to as healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They may manage one specific department (such as medical billing), an entire facility (such as a nursing home), or a health practitioner’s office (such as a specialist’s private practice).

Depending on the position, managers can expect to:

  • Create work schedules
  • Improve efficiency and quality
  • Ensure that the facility they work in is up to current laws and regulations
  • Manage billing and fees
  • Keep and organize records
  • Coordinate programs

And more, depending on the position and facility.

They are also required to communicate with medical practitioners (physicians and surgeons), registered nurses, laboratory technicians, patients, and insurance companies.

Essentially, health services managers are tasked with keeping healthcare facilities running smoothly and without incident. A job search will specify positions for coordinators, project managers, and information systems managers, all engaged in various settings, from hospitals to private practices. Depending on your interests, strengths, and background, there are plenty of job options within the healthcare management and administrative sectors.

INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Over the ten-year period of 2016 to 2026, employment of health services managers is projected to grow twenty percent, significantly faster than other management positions. Demand is growing in hospitals, private practices, and nursing homes, as more physicians are hired and more nursing homes are needed for the aging baby boomer population. Currently, hospitals employ about thirty-six percent of health services managers, with physicians’ offices and nursing homes employing eleven and ten percent, respectively.

As with most professions in the modern era, those with strong technology skills will find themselves the most employable, as healthcare facilities depend on tech for electronic health records, medical billing and coding, work scheduling, and more.

Most positions will require a bachelor’s degree or some combination of a two-year degree and experience, along with some additional certifications. It is possible to start working with an associate degree while working toward a higher degree, and some employers might cover additional education costs as an employment benefit. Ultimately, the healthcare industry is complicated, and those with degrees specifically in health services management can expect to be more employable than those with just business administration degrees.

SALARY

As of May 2017, the median wage for health services managers stands at $98,350, with the bottom ten percent making less than $58,350 and the top ten percent earning more than $176,130. This median wage is about $10,000 higher than the median wage for management positions in other industries, making the healthcare industry look quite attractive for ROI of education costs.

Chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of course, salary considerations include factors such as experience, position, location, and education level. And it should be noted that you might have to earn this salary with unusual work hours, including late-night and overnight schedules if you work for a hospital.

When considering your career goals, the health services management profession is certainly one to think about as healthcare demand continues to grow.

Brighton College offers an Associate Degree in Health Services Management as well as various medical certification programs. Brighton College offers all courses online, along with affordable tuition and an emphasis on employability after graduation. Visit Brighton College’s website to take your first steps toward this rewarding and lucrative career.

Jack Of All Trades

No, not me. I mean, I’m good, but not that good. This post is about a lady who’s done so many different things with Brighton, it’s hard to keep straight.

Amanda MacDonald is an instructor and also was a success coach…until a week ago. I took over her students for success coaching, and Amanda picked up the additional responsibilities as the Curriculum Manager. I asked Amanda to give her bio in her own words:

Hello! My name is Amanda MacDonald and I am the Curriculum Manager for Brighton College. I also teach the Child Development course. I have my bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and my Master’s in Educational Technology, both from Arizona State University…go Sun Devils! I have a wonderful husband and two sons. My oldest is almost 7 years old and is in first grade. He is in a Mandarin Immersion program in school and it is so amazing to see and hear what he has learned so far! My youngest is 3 1/2 years old and loves doing everything his big brother and dad do! When I am not working, I love to play outdoors with my children and our big, fluffy Alaskan Malamute puppy! I am excited to work at Brighton College and help my colleagues make our curriculum relevant and engaging for all of our students! Thank you for choosing Brighton College!

Amanda is one of the nicest people to work with, and she’s such a hard worker that you know if you ask her to do something, she’ll do it quickly and accurately the first time she tries it. It’s not every day you’re blessed to work with such a great person, and I’m lucky I get to work with her every day! So maybe it IS every day! Well, at least for those of us at Brighton College.

Maybe you should join us and see why our faculty is amazing, and why the curriculum is 5-star thanks to Amanda!