How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant School near Auburn University Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Auburn University AL and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find schools within driving range of their Auburn University homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Auburn University AL lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training 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 opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Auburn University AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Auburn University AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Auburn University AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing 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 Auburn University AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Auburn University AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success 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 corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose 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 local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those schools that are within the Auburn University AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Auburn University AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Auburn University AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Auburn University AL?
If you live near Auburn University 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.
Auburn University (AU or Auburn) is a public research and Land-grant university in Auburn, Alabama. With more than 23,000 undergraduate students and a total enrollment of more than 30,000 with 1,260 faculty members, Auburn is the second largest university in Alabama. It is one of the state's two public flagship universities. The University is classified as an RI: Doctoral Research - Very High Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Auburn was chartered on February 1, 1856, as East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1872, under the Morrill Act, it became the state's first public land-grant university and was renamed as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. In 1892, it became the first four-year coeducational school in Alabama, and in 1899 was renamed Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API) to reflect its changing mission. In 1960, its name was changed to Auburn University to acknowledge the varied academic programs and larger curriculum of a major university.
The Alabama Legislature chartered the institution as the East Alabama Male College on February 1, 1856, coming under the guidance of the Methodist Church in 1859. Its first president was Reverend William J. Sasnett, and the school opened its doors in 1859 to a student body of eighty and a faculty of ten.
Legal Studies Courses Auburn University AL
Choosing the right paralegal degree school 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 Legal Studies Courses. But as we have addressed 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 Auburn University home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Auburn University AL.
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