How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Alexandria Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Alexandria AL and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Alexandria residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Alexandria AL lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow 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 tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- 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 documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Alexandria AL is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Alexandria AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Alexandria AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Alexandria AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Alexandria AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Alexandria AL area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Alexandria AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Alexandria 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 offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and may be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Alexandria AL?
If you live near Alexandria 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.
Alexandria (/ˌælɪɡˈzændriə/ or /-ˈzɑːnd-/;Egyptian Arabic: إسكندريه Eskendereyya; Arabic: الإسكندرية al-ʾIskandariyya; Coptic: ⲁⲗⲉⲝⲁⲛⲇⲣⲓⲁ Alexandria or ⲣⲁⲕⲟϯ Rakote) is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic centre, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.
Alexandria was founded around a small, ancient Egyptian town c. 332 BC by Alexander the Great,king of Macedon and leader of the Greek League of Corinth, during his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire. Alexandria became an important center of Hellenistic civilization and remained the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt and Roman and Byzantine Egypt for almost 1,000 years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641, when a new capital was founded at Fustat (later absorbed into Cairo). Hellenistic Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library (the largest in the ancient world); and the Necropolis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Alexandria was at one time the second most powerful city of the ancient Mediterranean region, after Rome. Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbor of Alexandria, which began in 1994, is revealing details of Alexandria both before the arrival of Alexander, when a city named Rhacotis existed there, and during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
From the late 18th century, Alexandria became a major center of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centers in the world, both because it profited from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton.
Enroll in the Best Legal Assistant Program near Alexandria AL
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Alexandria residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Alexandria AL.
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