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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs

Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Lanett AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.

Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, 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 quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Lanett AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.

What's the Reputation of the School? Find out 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 profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Lanett AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Lanett AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within the Lanett AL area.

What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Lanett AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lanett AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.

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