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What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs

Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Alabaster AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Alabaster AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.

What's the Program's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Alabaster AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Alabaster AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.

Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Alabaster AL area.

How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Alabaster AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Alabaster AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

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