How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Attalla Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Attalla AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Attalla residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Alabama Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Attalla AL attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for Attalla AL attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at many Attalla AL area community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited Attalla AL area school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular in Attalla AL and can be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at Attalla AL area junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 important factors to think about also, 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 properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization 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 education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Attalla AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Alabama paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since Attalla AL employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 contact a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other Attalla AL legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. 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 sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Attalla AL legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area Attalla AL legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, 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 accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Attalla AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Attalla AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Legal Assistant Program near Attalla AL
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Attalla home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Attalla AL.
More About Attalla Alabama
The town occupies the site of an Indian village which was of considerable importance during the Creek War. It was in Attalla that David Brown, a Cherokee assisted by the Rev. D. S. Butterick, prepared the Cherokee Spelling Book.
Attalla was not founded until 1870, on land donated by W. C. Hammond, a plantation owner. It was incorporated as a city government on February 5, 1872. The town was officially named "Attalla" in 1893, from the Cherokee language word meaning "mountain". Attalla was prosperous until the railroads that it depended on went into bankruptcy.
William Lewis Moore, a U.S. postman and white civil rights activist, was murdered here on April 23, 1963 as he tried to walk from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to deliver his letter in support of civil rights to Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. The suspected murderer, Floyd Simpson, was never charged with the crime.]].
Attalla is in Etowah County at 34°0′35″N 86°5′54″W / 34.00972°N 86.09833°W / 34.00972; -86.09833 (34.009818, -86.098413). It is bordered to the east by the city of Gadsden, the county seat, and at its southernmost point by Rainbow City.
Related Cities in Alabama