How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Program near Daleville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Daleville AL and begin 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 extensive 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 more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Daleville residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Daleville AL lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Daleville AL is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Daleville AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Daleville AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick 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 Daleville AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Daleville AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within the Daleville AL region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Daleville AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Daleville 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 enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Daleville AL?
If you live near Daleville 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.
Daleville is a city in Dale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 5,295, up from 4,653 in 2000. It is part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area. The city's nickname is "Gateway to Fort Rucker", as this U.S. Army post is located just north of town. Cairns Army Airfield is located to the south of Daleville on the road to nearby Clayhatchee.
Daleville, originally known as "Dale's Court House", was founded in 1827 by veterans of the Creek Indian War who had settled in Dale County following that conflict. It was established as the original county seat of Dale County in 1827 but lost that honor when Coffee County split from Dale in 1841, at which time the seat was moved first to Newton, and then later to Ozark in 1870, where it remains today.
Residents of the town formed portions of two regiments of the Confederate States Army during the U.S. Civil War: the 15th Alabama Infantry, famed for charging the 20th Maine on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 33rd Alabama Infantry. In the latter regiment, Company "G", called the "Daleville Blues", was recruited entirely from Daleville. Several men from this company were killed in a freak train derailment on November 4, 1862 near Cleveland, Tennessee; the remainder would fight with the rest of the 33rd in the Confederate Army of Tennessee until the final surrender in 1865.
Paralegal Schools Online Daleville AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree school is an essential 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 Paralegal Schools Online. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Daleville residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Daleville AL.
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