How to Select a Paralegal Program near Adger Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Adger AL and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for schools within driving distance of their Adger residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account also. Later 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 take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Adger 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 practice might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
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 educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Adger AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to complete. Most 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 two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Adger AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to research as well, 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 researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Adger AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education 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 verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Adger AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Adger AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Adger AL region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Adger AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Adger AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting 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 guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Adger AL?
If you live near Adger 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.
The community is served by a volunteer fire department as well as a Neighborhood Watch office, which doubles as a working office for Jefferson County sheriff's deputies who patrol the area. It is governed by the Jefferson County Commission and the various departments and facets of the County Government.
The town is named for Andrew M. Adger, originally of Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Adger moved to Bessemer, Alabama, when he became an investor in and secretary-treasurer of the Bessemer Land & Improvement Company. He also was an operating officer of the Debardeleben Coal & Iron Company. Adger is a rural community that arose in the late 1880s during development of Debardeleben's Adger, Johns, and Belle Sumter mines in the Blue Creek Coal Basin. The mines were operating at their peak in the early Twentieth Century. The Black Diamond Mine also operated in the Adger community along Blue Creek road where the mine's Hoist Tipple and Portal were located about 100 yards west of the Old Blue Creek Baptist Church. Since the closing of the mines the community has seen both periodic growth and decline. Currently ( March 2013 ) the Adger, Johns, Sumter and Black Diamond Coal mine sites are being strip mined by Durmmond Coal's Twin Pines Mining Company and only a few concrete foundations remain, hidden in the thick privet growth, that hint back to the original mining interest.
Its location is about 5.0 miles (8.0 km) northwest and about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) from Interstates 20/59 which merge in Northeast Jefferson County and run through Jefferson County into Tuscaloosa County and northward into Walker County. It is the former location of Oak Grove High School on Lock 17 Road. An F5 tornado destroyed it on April 8, 1998. City-Data.com reports the area to be 131 square miles (340 km2) with a population density of 23 per square mile. The zip code is 35006.
Choose the Right Paralegal Training near Adger AL
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Adger home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, 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 prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Adger AL.
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