How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Lineville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Lineville AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Lineville homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, just 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 legal assistants and paralegals assist Lineville AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Lineville AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (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 legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Lineville 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 especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Lineville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 some Lineville AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Lineville AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Lineville AL area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Lineville AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Lineville AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Lineville AL?
If you live near Lineville 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.
Native Americans were the first to inhabit the area now known as Lineville. The Creek Indian War of 1813, however, resulted in their removal. The first white settlers in the area were William and Thomas Lundie. Their settlement became known as Lundie's Cross Roads after a trading post opened in the 1830s to serve pioneers and miners searching for gold. In 1856, Lundie's Cross Roads became known as County Line, probably for the Baptist Church, founded in 1848 and located on what was then the boundary line between Talladega and Randolph counties. Also in 1856, a post office was established in County Line, schools were consolidated and corn and cotton became cash crops.
The Town of (Crooked Creek) Lineville was built on what was at that time the dividing line between Talladega and Randolph Counties, hence the name, Lineville. John H. Ingram, Sr. of Lineville, Alabama furnishes the following early history: “Crooked Creek Baptist Church, later Lineville, was organized in 1839 and built one and one quarter miles west of the town of Lineville about 200 yards northwest of the home of Frank Pittard; and the first literary school of the community was nearby. Some years later the church was moved a short distance and a house was built on the left side of the public road near the residence of the late Thomas H. Harris. In about 1863 the church was moved into the town of Lineville and a house built just west of the present grammar school building; the name was changed to Lineville Baptist Church in 1881 and legally incorporated in 1912; the first Circuit Court that was held in the new County of Clay, was held in the Lineville Baptist Church in 1867, with John Henderson of Talladega, Alabama, as a judge. The present new brick building was built in 1915 and 1916, with the first service held on March 1st, 1916, with prayer and thanksgiving service conducted by J.H. Ingram, Sr., and C.N. James, pastor.”
One of the newest attractions in Clay County in the 1920s, was the chicken business. Millions of chickens and eggs and long chicken houses In or about 1921, Reverend Secelar Claxton Ray took one hundred, day-old chicks to the Clay County Fair and put them under an oil burning brooder and called attention to the advantage of using chickens on the farm to supplement the ‘all cotton’ cash crop. This was something new, but it did gradually got the attention of the local farmers. He was now fully in the poultry business, and named it Goodwill Poultry Farm and Hatchery. He bought houses then idle at the local graphite mines in Clay County and hired neighbors in their spare time and built the hatchery and chicken houses and an extra tenant house on the farm, southeast of Ashland, Alabama whose population of close to one thousand had grown considerably from two hundred in 1881.
Select the Best Paralegal Training near Lineville AL
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Lineville home. Paralegal education programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Lineville AL.
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