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Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Monroeville AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential 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 research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may 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 training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Monroeville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Monroeville AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Monroeville AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Monroeville AL region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don't forget to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Monroeville AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Monroeville AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.