How to Find the Best Paralegal Studies Training Program Near Daleville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Daleville AL and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it's crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for schools within commuting range of their Daleville homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let's take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Daleville AL attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really 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 take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs 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 academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Daleville AL is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations in the profession 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Courses
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to Daleville AL students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Daleville AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important issues to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Daleville AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Daleville AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Daleville AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Daleville AL area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Daleville AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Daleville AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Daleville Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Selecting the right legal assistant degree school is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Daleville home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Daleville Alabama.