How to Find the Best Paralegal Course Near Glencoe Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Glencoe AL and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it's essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Glencoe homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let's take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Glencoe AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal's work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Glencoe AL is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Certificates and Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to Glencoe AL students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Glencoe AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program 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 can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Glencoe AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 some Glencoe AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Glencoe AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good 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 Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. 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 want to initially consider those schools that are within the Glencoe AL region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don't forget to talk to the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Glencoe AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Glencoe AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Glencoe Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies training program is an important 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 Glencoe home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Glencoe Alabama.