Notary Public & Legal Support Network Blog

Friday, November 23, 2007

Approved distance learning schools

The following distance learning schools/colleges have been approved by our Network:

  • The Paralegal Institute -- an accredited two year college that offers various paralegal and criminal justice related programs. One of the oldest and most respected paralegal schools in the country.
  • Washington Online Learning Institute -- This school is regionally accredited and offers many programs relating to paralegal studies. The only downfall about this school is that they're fairly new. For all we know, the school might go out of business in a year or two. (Note: "fairly new" in this context = under 10 years old).
  • Blackstone Career Institute -- This school is accredited and offers basically the same courses that The Paralegal Institute offers.
  • National Paralegal College -- This college offers basically the same courses that Blackstone Career Institute and The Paralegal Institute offers. The downfall about this school is that they're fairly new.

Our Network attorney has verified that all of the schools are licensed by the State they operate in and are accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

The attorney highly recommends The Paralegal Institute because they have a wonderful curriculum and have been specializing in legal careers since 1974. The Paralegal Institute is one of the oldest paralegal schools in the country.

If any member would like the attorney to review any other distance learning school, please log in and submit the schools information. Remember, according to the USDE and CHEA, national accreditation and regional accreditation are equal. Most of the information you read on the Internet about the regional accreditation v. national accreditation controversy is outdated.

Friday, November 16, 2007

MA Seal on Constable Badges

Thanks to Lyle R. Hasley, a Constable for Mashpee, our Network has learned that a Constable's badge should not bear the Sigil of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts unless he/she is in regular employment as a Constable. Furthermore, a Constable may not use the seal of the Commonwealth on any business advertisement, according to MGL.

The 'Process Server' page, which has a Constable badge as an image, will be edited shortly.

Thanks again Constable Hasley for bringing this matter to our attention. To those that may need a Constable and/or a Notary Public in the Mashpee area, be sure to contact:

Lyle R. Hasley

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Constitutional Rights? What's that?

To hell with your supposed Constitutional rights - we need our money!

Boston and Washington, D.C. are pissed off about the fact that folks are going to court to contest parking tickets, taking away revenue from the cities. I mean, why should citizens take advantage of their right to have their day in court?

So D.C. is phasing out the right to challenge any parking citation. And in Boston and other Massachusetts cities, folks “cannot challenge a $100 parking ticket in court without first paying a $275 court fee,” a fee which is not refunded if they’re ultimately found innocent.

Looks like Bush’s attempt to turn our country into a Constitution-free zone is contagious.

Visit the full article by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Network Meeting -- November 14th

Hey everyone,

I wanted to take the time to thank all those who attended our network meeting this afternoon. It was really wonderful meeting all of you and I look forward to speaking to you all again real soon.

For those members who were unable to attend, please log in and watch the video of the meeting. The meeting covered the following topics:
  • Paralegal Ethics - (Speakers: Korey Humphreys & Amanda Hyde);
  • MA Process Server Laws/Rules - (Video Courtesy of MPSN);
  • How to properly perform your duties as a Notary Public - (Speaker: Ashley);
  • Member Questions/Comments

A verbatim transcript of the meeting will be available in 5 days. Be sure to log in to download the transcript in PDF format.

~Ashley, "Primary" Member~

Legal Education -- DETC Accreditation

As required by majority vote, I was required to research possibilities for CLE (continuing legal education) training. Specifically, I was asked to check out the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) and determine whether or not this national accreditor is acceptable for members of our Network. Therefore, my findings follow.

DETC is a "national accreditor" recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). DETC accredits entire institutions and the programs they offer. Since DETC only accredits institutions that offer more than half of their programs through distance learning, the Accrediting Commission’s examining teams are experienced specialists and practitioners who ensure that an institution’s programs and services are designed and delivered appropriately for distance learning.

Is national accreditation equal to regional accreditation?

Yes. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes all accrediting bodies in the same manner. For instance, a regional accreditor, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, has to undergo the SAME rigorous process as a national accreditor (i.e., DETC) in order to be recognized. The process employed must meet the Criteria for Recognition, which can be found in Federal regulations. The Criteria do not differentiate between types of accrediting agencies, so the recognition granted to all types of accrediting agencies -- regional, institutional, specialized, and programmatic -- is IDENTICAL.

Sadly some people still believe that regional accreditation is superior then national accreditation. This belief is not only false, but has caused many graduates of nationally accredited schools problems. For example, there are some regionally accredited colleges that refuse to accept credits earned at nationally accredited colleges simply because of their accreditation status. The credit transfer issue is basically due to "snobbery" practices that are discriminatory, to say the least. Luckily this "snobbery" is rapidly diminishing. In fact, Congress, the Department of Education, and the Department of Justice have been investigating this anti-competitive practice by higher education.

Is distance learning a real way a paralegal, or other legal professional, can continue their education?

The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), and the American Association on Paralegal Education (AAfPE), all acknowledge that distance education is an acceptable method of paralegal training.

Almost all Colleges and Universities nowadays offer some courses via distance education.

Should employers accept distance learning degrees and/or diplomas?

Yes, why shouldn't they? If the U.S. Department of Education and/or Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) view distance learning as a legit way in gaining an education, why would employers disregard a degree/diploma earned via distance learning?

Employers should only worry about whether or not a degree/diploma came from a school accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or CHEA (i.e., DETC).

Ten years ago distance education wasn't taken seriously. Nowadays, however, probably due to technology advancements, distance learning is taken seriously and is only questioned by older generations. Did you know that some teens can now "attend" virtual (online) high school? It's true!

Can you recap what you learned about DETC accreditation?
  • DETC accreditation is valid.
  • DETC accreditation is equal to regional accreditation in the eyes of the Secretary of Education and CHEA.
  • DETC accreditation ensures that the school it accredits is a legit school that helps students gain a real education.

Can you offer evidence that supports your information?

Yes. Click here to read a letter that was written by the U.S. Department of Education. This letter confirms that DETC, and other national accreditors, are equal to regional accreditation. Furthermore, it proves that DETC is a valid accreditor.

DETC has a lot of valuable information on their website that concerns accreditation. Additionally, they have wonderful info about the regional vs. national issue. Click here to visit their website.

Have you ever taken courses at a nationally accredited (i.e., DETC) school?

I have taken courses at both regionally and nationally accredited colleges; however I never knew much about accreditation until I started to research this issue. I earned a Degree in Paralegal Studies from a regionally accredited college and have earned numerous certificates from a DETC accredited college that specializes in legal careers. (The courses at the "regional college" were taken on campus, whereas the courses taken from the "national college" were taken off campus.)

I even tested the "national college" by enrolling in a legal course (in Civil Litigation) I had already taken at the "regional college". Both college's had me studying from the same textbook and offered similar assignments/tests that covered the textbook material.

I felt that I had learned valuable information from both college's and am very happy with the learning experience.

(Note: As mentioned above, I learned about the different types of accreditation while researching this topic for our members. Back when I tested both colleges, I was only testing whether or not the distance learning college was equivalent to what I was learning in the classroom. Regardless, the test is relevant for this discussion.)

So, would your Network accept nationally accredited diplomas/degrees?

Yes! It is a fact that national accreditation is equal to regional accreditation, so who am I to say that it isn't? There is no valid reason why I, or anyone, should ever disregard a diploma/degree earned at a nationally accredited school. If the U.S. Department of Education and/or Council for Higher Education Accreditation acknowledge it as valid, then I'm inclined to agree with them.

Don't be brainwashed into believing differently. In the real world employers only care whether or not the degree/diploma came from an accredited school.