How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Enterprise Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Enterprise AL and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Enterprise residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Enterprise AL attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- 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 role of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Enterprise AL is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Enterprise AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable 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 focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Enterprise AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Enterprise AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Enterprise AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop 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 desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within the Enterprise AL area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Enterprise AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Enterprise AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure 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 respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Enterprise AL?
If you live near Enterprise 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.
Enterprise is a city in the southeastern part of Coffee County and the southwestern part of Dale County in the southeastern part of Alabama in the Southern United States. The population was 26,562 at the 2010 census. Enterprise is the primary city of the Enterprise Micropolitan Statistical Area (with the portion of the city located in Dale County part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area), and is also part of the Dothan-Enterprise-Ozark Combined Statistical Area.
Enterprise is famous for the Boll Weevil Monument, a large monument of a woman holding a boll weevil, which is located in the middle of Main Street. The city erected the statue because the destruction of the cotton crop by the boll weevil had led to agricultural diversity, starting with peanuts and more prosperity than had ever come from cotton alone. It is said to be the only statue to an insect pest in the world. Enterprise is right outside Fort Rucker, an Army base which is the home of Army Aviation.
The founder of Enterprise, John Henry Carmichael, first settled there in 1881. Carmichael opened a store, which attracted more settlers to the area, and by the next year a post office was relocated from the settlement of Drake Eye to the north to Enterprise. In 1896, with 250 people having settled there, the city of Enterprise incorporated. Soon afterward, the Alabama Midland Railway came to Enterprise, bringing with it opportunities for commerce and growth. By 1906, ten years after the city incorporated, its population had grown to 3,750.
School For Legal Studies Enterprise AL
Selecting the right paralegal studies degree school is an essential 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 School For Legal Studies. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Enterprise residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, 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 influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Enterprise AL.
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