How to Find a Paralegal School near Loachapoka Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Loachapoka AL and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Loachapoka homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Loachapoka AL lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main 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 number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Loachapoka AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession 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 discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential 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 regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Loachapoka AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Loachapoka AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Loachapoka AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Loachapoka AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable 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 state to state, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Loachapoka AL area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Loachapoka AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Loachapoka AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater 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 school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Loachapoka AL?
If you live near Loachapoka 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.
Loachapoka is a town in Lee County, Alabama, United States. It is located less than 1/2 mile west of the City of Auburn and approximately 5 miles West of Auburn University, in west-central Lee County. The population was 180 as of the 2010 census. It is part of the Auburn metropolitan area.
The name "Loachapoka" means "turtle killing place" in Muskogee, with locha meaning "turtle" and poga meaning "killing place." In literature, Lochapoka was the destination of the colonists in James H. Street's 1940 novel Oh, Promised Land.
Loachapoka is governed by a mayor and 5 town council members. However, in the most recent municipal election (2016), no incumbents submitted qualifying paperwork to run for re-election. Therefore, the only citizen that did qualify for the ballot became mayor-elect, as per state law, and this was confirmed by the AL Director of Elections. When the mayor-elect brought the issue to light, several town, county and state officials worked together in a poorly hatched plan to improperly disqualify the only candidate to follow the law for qualification, as referenced in several newspaper articles and audio recordings of town hall meetings. The corruption portrayed in this series of events reflect a pattern of politics in Alabama that has been commonplace for many years, as reported in the Harvard Political Review.
Choose the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Loachapoka AL
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Loachapoka residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Loachapoka AL.
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