How to Pick the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Blountsville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Blountsville AL and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within commuting range of their Blountsville homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Blountsville AL attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Blountsville AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Blountsville AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Blountsville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Blountsville AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Blountsville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Blountsville AL area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Blountsville AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Blountsville AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Blountsville AL?
If you live near Blountsville Alabama or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Blount County was created by the Alabama territorial legislature on February 6, 1818, from land ceded to the federal government by the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814. It was named for Gov. Willie G. Blount of Tennessee, who provided assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War of 1813-14. It lies in the northeastern section of the state, generally known as the mineral region.
What became Blountsville appears on an 1819 map as the mixed Creek/Cherokee Native American village of "Wassausey" (meaning Bear Meat Cabin, the name of an Indian translator who lived there). The town was established by Caleb Fryley and Johnny Jones in 1816 as Bear Meat Cabin. It became a popular stop for westward-bound settlers who streamed into the area at the end of the Creek War. The post office was opened as Blountsville on October 20, 1825, and incorporated on December 13, 1827. It was the county seat until 1889 when the government was moved to Oneonta.
There were many schools in the town in the early years: The Academy, Blount College and the District Agricultural School, plus the public schools. The Blount County Courthouse and jail was built in 1833 and remained there until it was moved to Oneonta. A major crossroads in early Alabama, Blountsville became a Confederate depot for the cavalry. Confederate forces led by General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Union forces led by General Abel Streight skirmished briefly in the town on May 1, 1863, and Major General Lovell H. Rousseau and his Union cavalry occupied the town in July 1864. Blount College was in the building that was originally the courthouse. It was established in 1890. The beautiful Blountsville United Methodist Church was established in 1818 and is the oldest building in Blountsville and is still in use today. Another old building in Blountsville was once known as the Barclift House. Built in 1834 as Hendricks Tavern, it is now owned and is being restored by the Ortiz family.
Legal Studies Classes Blountsville AL
Choosing the right paralegal studies training school is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Legal Studies Classes. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Blountsville home. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Blountsville AL.
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