How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Crossville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Crossville AL and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Crossville homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing 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 consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill 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 are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Crossville AL attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Crossville AL is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose 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 boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Crossville AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Crossville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Crossville AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Crossville AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Crossville AL region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Crossville AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Crossville AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Crossville AL?
If you live near Crossville 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.
Crossville is a town in DeKalb County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 1,862, up from 1,431 in 2000. Crossville is located atop Sand Mountain, a southern extension of the Cumberland Plateau.
Crossville is located in southwestern DeKalb County at 34°17′12″N 85°59′27″W / 34.28667°N 85.99083°W / 34.28667; -85.99083 (34.286752, -85.990814).Alabama State Route 68 is the main road through the town, leading east 9 miles (14 km) to Interstate 59 at Collinsville and west 14 miles (23 km) to Albertville. Alabama State Route 227 also passes through Crossville, leading north 5 miles (8 km) to Geraldine and south 7 miles (11 km) into Big Wills Valley.
As of the 2010 census Crossville had a population of 1,862. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 87.2% non-Hispanic white, 0.4% black, 1.9% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 6.3% from some other race, 2.4% from two or more races and 8.3% Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Right Paralegal Program near Crossville AL
Selecting the right paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Crossville residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Crossville AL.
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