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What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs

Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Daphne AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.

Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Daphne AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.

What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Daphne AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember 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 provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Daphne AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer 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 graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.

Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive 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 might wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Daphne AL region.

How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Daphne AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Daphne AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.

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