How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Greensboro Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Greensboro AL and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Greensboro residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Greensboro AL lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Greensboro AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Greensboro AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Greensboro AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Greensboro AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Greensboro AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important 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 desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Greensboro AL region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Greensboro AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Greensboro AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced 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 education 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 respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Greensboro AL?
If you live near Greensboro 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.
Greensboro is a city in Hale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 2,497, down from 2,731 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Hale County, Alabama, which was not organized until 1867. It is part of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Greensboro was incorporated as a town in December 1823 as "Greensborough". It was named in honor of American Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene. The name was soon simplified to "Greensboro". The community was known as "Troy" prior to incorporation.
Reflecting the history of the antebellum years and a culture built on cotton plantations to produce the commodity crop, several sites on the National Register of Historic Places in or near Greensboro are connected to this past. These include Glencairn, the Greensboro Historic District, Magnolia Grove, the McGehee-Stringfellow House, Millwood, and the Payne House.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Greensboro AL
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Greensboro home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Greensboro AL.
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