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What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Millbrook AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to research as well, such as 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Millbrook AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 call several Millbrook AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Millbrook AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success 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 confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located 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 community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Millbrook AL area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so don't forget to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Millbrook AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Millbrook AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.