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Points to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs

Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Opp AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out 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 also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.

Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization 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 education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Opp AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.

What's the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, 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 call several Opp AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Opp AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging 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 sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those schools that are within the Opp AL region.

How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget 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 consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Opp AL. Of course if you choose 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? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Opp AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.

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