|Paralegal Certificate||Paralegal Studies||Paralegal Courses|
|Paralegal Degree||Paralegal Schools|
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Foley 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 when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Foley AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 Foley AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Foley AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those schools that are within the Foley AL area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure 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 reduce some of the expense, so don't forget to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Foley AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Foley AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.