How to Find a Paralegal Program near Glenwood Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Glenwood AL and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need 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 on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Glenwood residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
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 equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Glenwood AL lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Glenwood AL is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want 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 increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Glenwood 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 if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at 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 choice.
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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Glenwood AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered 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 specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent 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 contact several Glenwood AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Glenwood AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Glenwood AL region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Glenwood AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Glenwood AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Glenwood AL?
If you live near Glenwood 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.
As of the census of 2000, there were 191 people, 92 households, and 58 families residing in the town. The population density was 262.8 people per square mile (101.0/km²). There were 118 housing units at an average density of 162.3 per square mile (62.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 69.11% White, 29.84% Black or African American, and 1.05% from two or more races. 0.52% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 92 households out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.8% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.59.
In the town, the population was spread out with 18.3% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.3 males.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Program near Glenwood AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Glenwood home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Glenwood AL.
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