Home >> Alabama >> Lincoln >> Paralegal Certificate


Get Free Information on Paralegal Certificate and Degree Programs Lincoln AL 35096

How to Select the Best Paralegal Certificate Program Near Lincoln Alabama

Lincoln Alabama woman paralegal speaking with client on phoneCongratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lincoln AL and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it's important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their Lincoln homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let's take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

Legal Assistants and Paralegals

Lincoln Alabama law library

Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Lincoln AL attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities may include:

  • Researching and fact checking cases
  • Researching applicable cases and laws
  • Composing correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
  • Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
  • Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records

With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.

Paralegal Certificates and Degrees and Certification

Lincoln Alabama male paralegal speaking on phone writing notes

As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Lincoln AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are available also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies in the field 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.

Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs

Lincoln Alabama woman student attending online paralegal trainingLegal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to Lincoln AL students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.

What to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs

Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Lincoln AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective 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 significant factors to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.

Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Lincoln AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.

What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn 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 previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Lincoln AL law practices 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 may still have an excellent reputation.

Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Lincoln AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the School's Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Lincoln AL region.

What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Lincoln AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lincoln AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Lincoln Online Paralegal Schools

Choose the Right Lincoln Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program

Choosing the right legal assistant training school is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Lincoln residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Lincoln Alabama.


 

Lincoln Paralegal Schools | Main | Lincoln Paralegal Studies