How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Loxley Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Loxley AL and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Loxley homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Loxley AL attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting documents 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 conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers 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 complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited 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, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number 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 perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Loxley AL is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Loxley AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Loxley AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Loxley AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Loxley AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Loxley AL area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Loxley AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Loxley AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may 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 education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering 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 degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Loxley AL?
If you live near Loxley 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.
Loxley is a town in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 1,632. It is part of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area. Loxley is becoming a popular location for the expansion of the suburbs from Daphne and Spanish Fort, Alabama, because it is served by an Interstate 10 exit and is almost directly between the cities of Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida.
In 1870, a man from Chicago by the name of John Loxley established a lumber camp in the area previously known as Bennet. The lumber camp included a commissary and saw mill. The men that traveled with Loxley settled in what later became the town of Loxley. John Loxley returned to Chicago when the lumber was exhausted.
The train depot opened on May 5, 1906, on the Fort Morgan Line. Before that, there were only wagon roads to Bay Minette. Also in 1906, the Loxley post office was opened by Octavia Sauer. She served as the postmistress and depot agent. By 1920, the businesses in Loxley consisted of an egg store, grocery store, two general merchandise stores, train depot, drug store, telegraph office, land office, repair garage, post office, bank, hotel, butcher shop, orange packing shed, cement block plant, a blacksmith, a feed and lumber store. A grammar school was built in 1925.
ABA Certified Paralegal Programs Loxley AL
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies certificate 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 ABA Certified Paralegal Programs. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Loxley home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective 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 review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Loxley AL.
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