How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Newville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Newville AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Newville residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Newville AL lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited 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, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
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. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Newville AL is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Newville AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. 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 discussed, there are other important factors to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Newville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 a few Newville AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Newville AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within the Newville AL region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Newville AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Newville 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 choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing 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 conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Newville AL?
If you live near Newville 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.
James Madison Wells founded a village called "Wells" c. 1882. When the Abbeville Southern Railroad laid tracks through the town in 1893, its name was changed to "Wells Station". The post office was built in 1894. Wells Station incorporated as "Newville" in 1903.
The town of Newville became prosperous with merchants, banks, lodges, doctors, churches, Newville High School, Rosenwald High School, societies, a newspaper, a depot, sawmills, cotton gins, mule stables and all the elements required by a developing town. Newville's slow decline commenced after the Great Depression due to farm mechanization and loss of commerce.
James M. and Catherine Wells donated one-half acre of land in 1887 for the site of the church and cemetery. The oldest known grave is that of William Y. Kirkland who died April 10, 1891. The church paid W.M. Harris fifty dollars in 1901 for two and one-half acres of land for the cemetery. In 1947, burial spaces were sold for 25 center per square foot. Nancy Price gave the church one acre of land for the cemetery in 1958. There are over 700 marked and unmarked graves. The Newville Cemetery was listed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register in 2005.
Select the Ideal Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Newville AL
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Newville home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program 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. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Newville AL.
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