How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program near Hodges Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hodges AL and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right 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 academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Hodges residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, only 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Hodges AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’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 noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Hodges 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 offer a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Hodges AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Hodges AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Hodges AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Hodges AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Hodges AL area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Hodges AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Hodges AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Hodges AL?
If you live near Hodges 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.
Albert E. Hodge (April 18, 1912 – March 19, 1979) was an American actor best known for playing space adventurer Captain Video on the DuMont Television Network from December 15, 1950, to April 1, 1955. He played the Green Hornet on radio from January 1936 until January 1943.
Hodge was born in Ravenna, Ohio. His parents operated a tailoring and dry-cleaning business. Hodge acted and took part in sports at Ravenna High School. Nicknamed "Abie", he was a track star, a drum major and manager of the band, sang bass in the boys glee club and was a cheerleader.
Hodge graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1934, majoring in drama. After touring as an actor with the Casford Players, he was hired by WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan. Besides originating the role of Britt Reid, the Green Hornet, Hodge wrote and delivered daily editorials, announced at football games, wrote advertising copy, worked as a disc jockey, and produced radio dramas and documentaries, including The Lone Ranger and Challenge of the Yukon. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, and was bedridden for a year with pleurisy.
Post Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate Hodges AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies training school is a crucial 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 Post Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Hodges home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Hodges AL.
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