How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Alexander City Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Alexander City AL and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Alexander City residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered too. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered 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 same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Alexander City AL lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Alexander City AL is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, 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 may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Alexander City AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many 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 critical factors to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Alexander City AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Alexander City 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 among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Alexander City AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within the Alexander City AL region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Alexander City AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Alexander City AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Alexander City AL?
If you live near Alexander City 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.
Alexander City, Alabama
Alexander City, known to locals as "Alex City", is a city in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, United States, with a population of some 14,875. It is known for Lake Martin with its 750 miles (1,210 km) of wooded shoreline and 44,000 acres (18,000 ha) of water. Lake Martin stands on the Tallapoosa River and offers boating, swimming, fishing, golfing, and camping. Many neighborhoods and luxury homes are located on the lake.
Alexander City was incorporated in 1872 as Youngsville, after its founder James Young. In 1873, the Savannah and Memphis Railroad came to the city. The city was renamed in honor of the railroad's President Edward Porter Alexander, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg for the Confederate States.
On June 13, 1902, at 1 pm, a fire broke out in the Alexander City Machine shop and destroyed much of the town. At the time, Alexander City did not have a water system and all buildings, including the telegraph office, post office and three banks were burned.
Online Paralegal Certificate Alexander City AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies certificate school is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Online Paralegal Certificate. But as we have discussed 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 Alexander City residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Alexander City AL.
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