How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Auburn University Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Auburn University AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Auburn University homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at 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 for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Auburn University AL lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, 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 clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main 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 cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Auburn University AL is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Auburn University AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects 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 should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Auburn University AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Auburn University AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Auburn University AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. 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 need to initially look at those schools that are within the Auburn University AL area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Auburn University AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Auburn University AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Auburn University AL?
If you live near Auburn University AL or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Auburn University (AU or Auburn) is a land-grant and public research university in Auburn, Alabama, United States. With more than 23,000 undergraduate students and a total enrollment of more than 30,000 with 1,260 faculty members, Auburn is the second largest university in Alabama. Auburn University is one of the state's two public flagship universities.
Auburn was chartered on February 1, 1856, as East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1872, under the Morrill Act, it became the state's first public land-grant university and was renamed as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. In 1892, it became the first four-year coeducational school in Alabama, and in 1899 was renamed Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API) to reflect its changing mission. In 1960, its name was changed to Auburn University to acknowledge the varied academic programs and larger curriculum of a major university. In 1964, under Federal Court mandate, AU admitted its first student of color.
The Alabama Legislature chartered the institution as the East Alabama Male College on February 1, 1856, coming under the guidance of the Methodist Church in 1859. Its first president was Reverend William J. Sasnett, and the school opened its doors in 1859 to a student body of eighty and a faculty of ten.
Choose the Best Paralegal College near Auburn University AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Auburn University home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Auburn University AL.
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