How to Pick the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Perdue Hill Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Perdue Hill AL and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Perdue Hill residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Perdue Hill AL attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. 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 could assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Perdue Hill AL is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Perdue Hill AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective 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 critical issues to think about as well, 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 schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Perdue Hill AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Perdue Hill AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Perdue Hill AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to 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 Perdue Hill AL region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Perdue Hill AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Perdue Hill AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more common and may be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Perdue Hill AL?
If you live near Perdue Hill 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.
2014 United States Senate election in Georgia
The 2014 United States Senate election in Georgia was held on November 4, 2014, to elect a member of the United States Senate to represent the State of Georgia, concurrently with the election of the Governor of Georgia, as well as other elections to the United States Senate in other states and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections.
Incumbent Republican senator Saxby Chambliss announced on January 25, 2013, that he would not run for re-election, making this an open-seat race. After a close and contentious primary campaign, businessman David Perdue and U.S. Representative Jack Kingston advanced to a runoff for the Republican nomination, which was narrowly won by Perdue. The Democratic primary was decisively won by Points of Light CEO Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Also running was Libertarian nominee Amanda Swafford, a former Flowery Branch City Councilwoman.
If no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff would have been held between the top two finishers on January 6, 2015, after the 114th Congress had been sworn-in. This was not necessary, as Perdue defeated Nunn by a 53-to-45 percent margin in the November 4 balloting.
Top Online Paralegal Programs Perdue Hill AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies training 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 Top Online Paralegal Programs. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Perdue Hill residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Perdue Hill AL.
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