Find Paralegal Studies Schools Alabaster AL 35007

How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Alabaster Alabama

Alabama law books and judge's gavel in Alabaster 35007Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Alabaster AL and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Alabaster residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.

Alabama Legal Assistants and Paralegals

Alabama paralegal law library in Alabaster 35007Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Alabaster AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks may include:

  • Researching and fact checking cases
  • Researching applicable laws and cases
  • Composing correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
  • Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
  • Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records

With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for Alabaster AL attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.

Paralegal Training and Certification

As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous Alabaster AL area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the field are:

  • National Federation of Paralegal Associations
  • American Alliance of Paralegals
  • National Association of Legal Assistants
  • National Association for Legal Professionals

By graduating with a certificate or degree from an accredited Alabaster AL area program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.

Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes

attending paralegal school online in Alabaster ALParalegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular in Alabaster AL and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.

Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs

Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at Alabaster AL area junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Alabaster AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.

What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Alabama paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since Alabaster AL employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other Alabaster AL legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing 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 Alabaster AL legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring Alabaster AL legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within your local region.

What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Alabaster AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Alabaster AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.

Find the Right Paralegal College near Alabaster AL

Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Alabaster home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Alabaster AL.

More About Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster, Alabama

Alabaster is a city and southern suburb of Birmingham in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 30,352. According to the 2013 Census Estimates, the city had a population of 31,342. Alabaster is the 16th largest city in Alabama (by number of residents) and still a growing population.[2]

Alabaster mostly occupies Cahaba and Opossum Valleys, which are divided by the Pine Ridge that runs north to south. To the east and west, both valleys are flanked by parallel mountain ridges that locally run north to south, but are a part of a larger system of ridges that generally runs north-east to south-west (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills). The valleys are drained by small creeks (Buck Creek, Beaverdam Creek) which flow into the Cahaba River.[5]

George L. Scott, Sr., an Alabaster pioneer, owned and operated Alabaster Lime Co. His shipping point was known as “Scott Rock”. Later, housing was built to accommodate some of the employees, and the community acquired its name Alabaster from the "white calcium carbonate mineral". The First Bank of Alabaster opened in 1952, and its president was George L. Scott, Jr., who later became the first mayor of Alabaster. The first attempt in 1952 to incorporate Alabaster failed. In January 1953, the petition was again filed, and on February 23, 1953, Alabaster was officially incorporated with a favorable vote of 79 to 23, and 427 residing inhabitants. In 1955, the Alabaster Water and Gas Board was formed.[6]

As of the census of 2010, there were 30,352 people, 11,016 households, and 6,482 families residing in the city [9].The population density was 1,104.8 people per square mile (426.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.2% White,15.0% Black or African American, 0.31% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.2% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. 4.54% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

 

 

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