How to Find a Paralegal School near Tallassee Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Tallassee AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by trying to find schools within driving range of their Tallassee residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at 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 basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Tallassee AL attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Tallassee AL is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea 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 community and junior colleges in the Tallassee AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if 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 significant aspects to consider also, for instance 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 ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable 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 targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Tallassee AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Tallassee AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. 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 School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Tallassee AL legal community. 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 upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, 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 placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. 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 may need to first consider those colleges that are within the Tallassee AL area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, 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 assistance might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Tallassee AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Tallassee AL, verify classes are offered 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, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Tallassee AL?
If you live near Tallassee 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.
Tallassee (pronounced /ˈtæːləsi/) is a city on the Tallapoosa River, located in both Elmore and Tallapoosa counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. At the 2010 census the population was 4,819. It is home to a major hydroelectric power plant at Thurlow Dam operated by Alabama Power Company.
The historic Creek peoples in this area are believed to have descended from the Mississippian culture, which flourished throughout the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys and the Southeast from about 1000 to 1450. They were mound builders, who created massive earthwork mounds as structures for political and religious purposes. They relied greatly on fishing and riverway trading at their major sites (c.f. Moundville, Tuscaloosa).
Talisi was a town of the Coosa Province of the Mississippian culture; it was visited in 1540 by Hernando de Soto and his expedition through the Southeast. Later it was occupied by the historic Creek people. The Tallassee area was the location of the Creek capital city, Tuckabatchee, as well as the location of the seven sacred plates.
Find the Right Legal Assistant College near Tallassee AL
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a vital 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 at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Tallassee home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Tallassee AL.
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