How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Gordo Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Gordo AL and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Gordo homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Gordo AL attorneys 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 practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties 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, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Gordo AL is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Gordo AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to 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 targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Gordo AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Gordo AL law offices 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 ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Gordo AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within the Gordo AL region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Gordo AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Gordo AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Gordo AL?
If you live near Gordo 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.
Gordo is a town in Pickens County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 1,750, up from 1,677 in 2000. It was the second largest town in Pickens County as of 2010, taking the title from Reform, which it previously held in 1960 and 1970. The town incorporated in 1900.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,750 people residing in the town. 58.9% were White, 37.8% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.9% from some other race and 2.0% of two or more races. 1.5% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,677 people, 728 households, and 474 families residing in the town. The population density was 527.1 people per square mile (203.6/km²). There were 810 housing units at an average density of 254.6 per square mile (98.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 58.91% White, 40.31% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.30% from other races, and 0.30% from two or more races. 1.25% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Best Legal Assistant Program near Gordo AL
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Gordo residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Gordo AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 1