How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Excel Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Excel AL and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require 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 educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Excel residences. Of those choices, 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 ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Excel AL lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Excel AL is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose 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 boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Excel AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues 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 researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Excel AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. 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 quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program 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 verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Excel AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Excel AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within the Excel AL area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Excel AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Excel 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 offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Excel AL?
If you live near Excel 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.
Excel is the birthplace of former University of Alabama and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan. Excel High School (3A) provides education for children in and around the town of Excel. Businesses within the town include Dollar General, post office, a "do-it-yourself" car wash, a laundromat, hardware store, a locally-run diner and one bank.
As of the census of 2010, there were 723 people, 270 households, and 205 families residing in the town. The population density was 425.3 people per square mile (168.1/km2). There were 295 housing units at an average density of 173.5 per square mile (68.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 91.1% White, 5.0% Black or African American, 1.4% Native American, 0.1% some other race, and 2.4% from two or more races. 0.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 270 households out of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.6% were headed by married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.1% were non-families. 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68, and the average family size was 3.11.
Paralegal School Online Excel AL
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a crucial 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 Paralegal School Online. 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 Excel residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Excel AL.
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