How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Addison Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Addison AL and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Addison homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Addison AL attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated 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 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 attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Addison AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Addison AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Addison AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school 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 verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Addison AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Addison AL legal field. Ask 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 Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Addison AL region.
What is the Total Cost? 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 education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Addison AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Addison AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Addison AL?
If you live near Addison 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.
As of the 2010 Census Addison had a population of 757. The population was 99.1% white, 0.1% black or African American, 0.1% Asian, 0.7% from two or more races and 0.4% Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the census of 2000, there were 723 people, 315 households, and 219 families residing in the town. The population density was 205.7 people per square mile (79.5/km²). There were 339 housing units at an average density of 96.5 per square mile (37.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 99.45% White, 0.14% Black or African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.14% Asian, and 0.14% from two or more races. 0.14% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 315 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.0% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.2% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.78.
Paralegal Degree Addison AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies certificate program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Degree. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Addison residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Addison AL.
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