How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near New Market Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near New Market AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by searching for schools within driving range of their New Market residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help New Market AL attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training 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 educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in New Market AL is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the New Market AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering 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 enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous New Market AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several New Market AL law offices 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 could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the New Market AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those schools that are within the New Market AL area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in New Market AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near New Market AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover 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 looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near New Market AL?
If you live near New Market 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.
New Market, Alabama
New Market is a census-designated place (CDP) in Madison County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP is 1,597. Although it was the first area settled in Madison County, the town has never been incorporated.
In the early 19th century, several persons from Tennessee explored the area just across the border in what eventually became Madison County in Alabama. Isaac and Joseph Criner also explored the area and, in 1804, settled in the northern part near what is now called Mountain Fork of the Flint River. George Smith, landowner of town site, built first log house and established a mercantile business in 1814. John Miller excavated millrace, erected gristmill and sawmill in 1819. Later settlers gave the name New Market to the community.
Four sites in New Market are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the New Market Historic District, New Market Presbyterian Church, New Market United Methodist Church, and the Whitman-Cobb House.
Find the Best Paralegal College near New Market AL
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed 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 New Market home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in New Market AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 9