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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 training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Pelham AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective 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 important issues to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Pelham AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.

What's the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Pelham AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Pelham AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.

Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within the Pelham AL region.

What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Pelham AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Pelham 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, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.

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