How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Jackson Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Jackson AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Jackson homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Jackson AL lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Jackson AL is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies in the field 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Jackson AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Jackson AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Jackson AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Jackson AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those schools that are within the Jackson AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Jackson AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Jackson AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more common and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Jackson AL?
If you live near Jackson 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.
Al Jackson Jr.
Albert J. Jackson Jr. (November 27, 1935 – October 1, 1975) was an American drummer, producer, and songwriter. He was a founding member of Booker T. & the M.G.'s, a group of session musicians who worked for Stax Records and produced their own instrumentals. Jackson was affectionately dubbed "The Human Timekeeper" for his drumming ability. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
Jackson's father, Al Jackson Sr., led a jazz/swing dance band in Memphis, Tennessee. The young Jackson started drumming at an early age and began playing on stage with his father's band in 1940, at the age of five. He later played in producer and trumpeter Willie Mitchell's band and at the same time was holding down a chair in the popular Ben Branch Band.
Future bandmates Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn first heard Jackson playing in Mitchell's band at the Flamingo Room, and the all-white Manhattan Club. Mitchell had also hired Booker T. Jones for his band. It was Jones who suggested Jackson be brought to Stax. He said, "You guys need to know about Al." Dunn said that Jackson almost caused his wife to divorce him, because after finishing his own gig at one o'clock, he would stop by a club to hear Jackson and would get home at four or five in the morning; "He was that good!" said Dunn. At first, Jackson was reluctant to join Stax. He felt he could make more money playing live than doing session work. He wanted a guaranteed regular salary to come over to Stax (although he continued to play on sessions produced by Mitchell for Hi Records). And so he became the first Stax session musician to be on a weekly salary.
Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies Jackson AL
Choosing the best paralegal studies certificate school is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Jackson home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Jackson AL.
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