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What to Ask Paralegal Programs

Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Greenville AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to consider also, such as 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 selection.

Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Greenville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.

What's the School's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Greenville AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Greenville AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. 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 indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.

Where is the School's Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish 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 consider those schools that are within the Greenville AL region.

What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Greenville AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Greenville AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.

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