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What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Roanoke AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify 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. Many Roanoke AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Roanoke AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Roanoke AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Roanoke AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might 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 Roanoke AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Roanoke AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.