How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Gordo Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Gordo AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within driving range of their Gordo homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Gordo AL lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly 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 standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex 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 proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Gordo AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve 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 many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Gordo AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Gordo AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Gordo AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Gordo AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Gordo AL region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Gordo AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Gordo AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Gordo AL?
If you live near Gordo 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.
Gordo is a town in Pickens County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 1,750, up from 1,677 in 2000. It was the second largest town in Pickens County as of 2010, taking the title from Reform, which it previously held in 1960 and 1970. The town incorporated in 1900.
The city is located in west central Alabama along U.S. Route 82, which runs northwest to southeast through the town. It leads southeast 22 mi (35 km) to Northport and 23 mi (37 km) to Tuscaloosa. It runs northwest 8 mi (13 km) to Reform and 37 mi (60 km) to Columbus, Mississippi. Alabama State Route 86 runs west 14 mi (23 km) to Carrollton, the Pickens county seat. Alabama State Route 159 runs north 31 mi (50 km) to Fayette.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,750 people residing in the town. 58.9% were White, 37.8% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.9% from some other race and 2.0% of two or more races. 1.5% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Paralegal Online Degree Gordo AL
Choosing the right paralegal degree program 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 Paralegal Online Degree. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Gordo home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Gordo AL.
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