How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Rutledge Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Rutledge AL and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives 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 traveling range of their Rutledge homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically 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 are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Rutledge AL attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like 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 varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Rutledge AL is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Rutledge AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. 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 discussed, there are other significant factors to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Rutledge AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? 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 previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Rutledge AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Rutledge AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools 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 sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Rutledge AL area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Rutledge AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Rutledge AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Rutledge AL?
If you live near Rutledge 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.
Rutledge is located at the geographic center of Crenshaw County at 31°43′59″N 86°18′35″W / 31.73306°N 86.30972°W / 31.73306; -86.30972 (31.733103, -86.309619). The city of Luverne, the Crenshaw County seat, lies along Rutledge's eastern border.
Rutledge began as Barber's Crossroads. It was originally settled by Jared Phelps Barber. The town was briefly named Crenshaw, but on June 10, 1867, it was changed to Rutledge in honor of Captain Henry Rutledge, Company H. 59th Alabama Infantry, CSA. Rutledge was the first county seat of Crenshaw County and held that position from March 1867 to May 1893. It was incorporated in 1871.
As of the census of 2000, there were 476 people, 201 households, and 127 families residing in the town. The population density was 143.4 people per square mile (55.4/km²). There were 264 housing units at an average density of 79.5 per square mile (30.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 71.01% White, 28.36% Black or African American, and 0.63% from two or more races.
Associates In Paralegal Rutledge AL
Choosing the best paralegal studies degree 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 Associates In Paralegal. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Rutledge home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Rutledge AL.
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