How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program near Thomasville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Thomasville AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Thomasville homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Thomasville AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically 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 means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Thomasville AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, 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 increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Thomasville AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Thomasville AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Thomasville AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Thomasville AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. 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 reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those schools that are within the Thomasville AL region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? 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 education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Thomasville AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Thomasville AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized 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 obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Thomasville AL?
If you live near Thomasville 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.
Thomasville is a city in Clarke County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 4,209. Founded as a late 19th-century railroad town, it has transitioned over the course of more than a century into a 21st-century commercial hub. It is the childhood hometown of author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham.
Thomasville was founded in 1888 and incorporated on November 24 of that year. The former community of Choctaw Corner, dating back to the antebellum period, was a settlement west of what would become Thomasville, but when the merchants there learned that a railroad was going to bypass their town to the east, they decided to move their stores to be near the railroad. The former community is now inside the city limits. The tracks between Mobile and Selma were completed the same year that Thomasville began. First referred to as "Choctaw", the town was named after railroad financier and former Union Civil War general, Samuel Thomas, after he donated $500 for the construction of Thomasville's first school. The town had expanded by the end of the 19th century with numerous stores, several hotels and boarding houses, and a depot station. In 1899, what is now downtown was destroyed by a fire that burned several blocks of the wood frame buildings. Thomasville quickly rebuilt, this time in brick, and was once again flourishing by the start of World War I.
Over the next century, Thomasville continued to grow and expand. Over the years, many businesses came and others left. These included garment factories, sawmills, and cotton gins. The railroad discontinued its use of the town's depot by the 1950s, but that time also saw the opening of Thomasville's FPS-35 radar base, part of the Air Defense Command's Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, bringing in servicemen and their families. The prototype for the FPS-35 radar was developed at the Thomasville Aircraft Control and Warning Station. The 1950s also saw the planting of roses along Highway 43, the main highway through Thomasville, earning it the nickname of The City of Roses. The 1960s and 1970s saw the opening of numerous paper mills in the area, an industry that continues to be important to the economy of Thomasville today. This time also saw businesses begin to relocate from downtown to the main highway. The Thomasville Historic District was designated in 1999 by the National Register of Historic Places.
Accredited Online Paralegal Certificate Thomasville AL
Choosing the best legal assistant training program is a vital 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 Accredited Online Paralegal Certificate. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Thomasville residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Thomasville AL.
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