How to Find the Right Paralegal Program near Roanoke Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Roanoke AL and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Roanoke residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices 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 functions, 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 different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Roanoke AL lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. 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 administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Roanoke AL is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Roanoke AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 critical issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Roanoke AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, 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 contact some Roanoke AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Roanoke AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Roanoke AL area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Roanoke AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Roanoke AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Roanoke AL?
If you live near Roanoke 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.
This was an area of historic occupation by the Creek before treaties to persuade the Native Americans to cede their land, followed by forced migration under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The area was part of a broad part of upland developed as cotton plantations worked by enslaved African Americans. The area is still quite rural.
Initially called High Pine in the 1830s after a nearby creek, it was allegedly burned during an Indian uprising in 1836. Renamed Chulafinee in 1840, it was later renamed again for the hometown of one of the early settlers, Roanoke, Virginia. The city was officially incorporated in December 1890.
Roanoke has three schools served by Roanoke City Schools: Knight Enloe Elementary (K-3), Handley Middle School (4-8), and Handley High School (9-12). On December 1, 2011, the Handley Tigers won the AHSAA Football Class 3A State Championship.
Bachelor Of Science In Legal Studies Roanoke AL
Choosing the best legal assistant degree program is an important 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 Bachelor Of Science In Legal Studies. But as we have addressed 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 Roanoke residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed 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 presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Roanoke AL.
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