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Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Attalla AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn 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 as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to think about as well, 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 programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Attalla AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Attalla AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Attalla AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Attalla AL area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. 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 also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Attalla AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Attalla AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.