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Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Moody AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Moody AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need 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 services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Moody 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 if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Moody AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Moody AL area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don't forget to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Moody AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Moody AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.