How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Daleville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Daleville AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Daleville residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job positions 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 different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Daleville AL lawyers with a wide variety 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 legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting 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 involved and quite challenging. However, 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 limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable 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, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Daleville AL is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Daleville AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Daleville AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 Daleville AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Daleville AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Daleville AL region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Daleville AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Daleville AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Daleville AL?
If you live near Daleville 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.
Daleville is a city in Dale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 5,295, up from 4,653 in 2000. It is part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area. The city's nickname is "Gateway to Fort Rucker", as this U.S. Army post is located just north of town. Cairns Army Airfield is located to the south of Daleville on the road to nearby Clayhatchee.
Daleville, originally known as "Dale's Court House", was founded in 1827 by veterans of the Creek Indian War who had settled in Dale County following that conflict. It was established as the original county seat of Dale County in 1827 but lost that honor when Coffee County split from Dale in 1841, at which time the seat was moved first to Newton, and then later to Ozark in 1870, where it remains today.
Residents of the town formed portions of two regiments of the Confederate States Army during the U.S. Civil War: the 15th Alabama Infantry, famed for charging the 20th Maine on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 33rd Alabama Infantry. In the latter regiment, Company "G", called the "Daleville Blues", was recruited entirely from Daleville. Several men from this company were killed in a freak train derailment on 4 November 1862 near Cleveland, Tennessee; the remainder would fight with the rest of the 33rd in the Confederate Army of Tennessee until the final surrender in 1865.
Select the Best Legal Assistant Program near Daleville AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Daleville home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, 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. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training 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 ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Daleville AL.
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