How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Luverne Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Luverne AL and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Luverne homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Luverne AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting 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 job of a paralegal can be complicated 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 action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 Luverne AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 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 numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Luverne AL area, as well as vocational and trade 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 degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, 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 receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Luverne AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Luverne AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Luverne AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within the Luverne AL region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Luverne AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Luverne AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Luverne AL?
If you live near Luverne 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.
Luverne is a city in and the county seat of Crenshaw County, Alabama, United States. The city describes itself ais "The Friendliest City in the South", a slogan that appears on its "welcome" signs. At the 2010 census the population was 2,800.
Luverne was one of numerous towns developed in the state as a result of railroad construction. It was founded in 1889 in the central part of Crenshaw County, near the Patsaliga River, in association with the construction of the Montgomery and Florida Railroad; it was intended as the terminus. The new railroad station attracted related development and the town grew. It incorporated in 1891. This was a center of timbering in the Piney Woods of southern Alabama, as the land was not fertile enough to be suitable for large-scale cotton plantation agriculture.
By the late 1930s, lynchings of African Americans were increasingly conducted in small groups or in secret, rather than in the former mass public displays. On June 22, 1940, an African-American man named Jesse Thornton was lynched in Luverne for failing to address a white man with the title of "Mister". He was fatally shot and his body was later found in the Patsaliga River. The Equal Justice Initiative documented that the white man Thornton had apparently offended by his Jim Crow infraction was a police officer. This was the only lynching recorded in the county.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Program near Luverne AL
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Luverne home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Luverne AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest