How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Deatsville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Deatsville AL and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive 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 more and more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Deatsville homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Deatsville AL attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants 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 manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Deatsville AL is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Deatsville AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects 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 investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
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 school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Deatsville AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Deatsville AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Deatsville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within the Deatsville AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Deatsville AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Deatsville AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more common and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover 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 certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes 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 Deatsville AL?
If you live near Deatsville 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.
Deatsville is a town in Elmore County, Alabama, United States. Although Deatsville initially incorporated in 1903, it lapsed at some point after the 1910 U.S. Census and did not appear again as incorporated until 2000. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,154, up from 340 in 2000. Holtville High School is located near Deatsville.
Deatsville is located in western Elmore County at 32°35′38″N 86°23′36″W / 32.59389°N 86.39333°W / 32.59389; -86.39333 (32.593958, -86.393454). It is bordered to the west by Autauga County and to the south by the city of Millbrook.
Alabama State Route 143 passes through the center of Deatsville, leading northwest 22 miles (35 km) to Clanton and southeast 8 miles (13 km) to Elmore. Montgomery, the state capital, is 23 miles (37 km) to the south.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Deatsville AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed 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 Deatsville residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Deatsville AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 9