How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies School near Atmore Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Atmore AL and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Atmore homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important 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 taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns 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 what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially 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 belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Atmore AL attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, 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 confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. 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 cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Atmore AL is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Atmore AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know 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 as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly 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 reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Atmore AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying 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 quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Atmore AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Atmore AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within the Atmore AL area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Atmore AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Atmore AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and may be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Atmore AL?
If you live near Atmore 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.
Atmore is a city in Escambia County, Alabama, United States. It incorporated in 1907. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 10,194, with an estimated population of 10,006 in 2014. Atmore is in the planning stages to increase its economic base with additions in its new Rivercane development along the I-65 corridor.
Atmore has completed requirements to be recognized as an Alabama Community of Excellence at the upcoming Alabama League of Municipalities Convention. City officials are also working with the Alabama Historical Commission to have the downtown district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Atmore is located in western Escambia County at 31°1′23″N 87°29′31″W / 31.02306°N 87.49194°W / 31.02306; -87.49194 (31.023183, -87.492067). Its southern border is the Florida state line. The center of town is at the intersection of U.S. Route 31 and Alabama State Route 21, while a new section of the city has been incorporated 6 miles (10 km) to the north around Exit 57 of Interstate 65. US 31 leads southwest 20 miles (32 km) to Bay Minette and east 28 miles (45 km) to Brewton. Mobile is 51 miles (82 km) to the southwest via US 31 and I-65, while Pensacola, Florida, is 49 miles (79 km) south via AL 21, Florida State Road 97, and U.S. Route 29.
Legal Assistant Classes Atmore AL
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies degree program 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 Legal Assistant Classes. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Atmore home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, 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. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Atmore AL.
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