How to Pick a Paralegal College near Butler Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Butler AL and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Butler homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Alabama Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Butler AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for Butler AL attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at many Butler AL area community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations in the profession 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 Butler AL area program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more common in Butler AL and may be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at Butler AL area junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to research also, such as 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 selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Butler AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Alabama paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since Butler AL employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided 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 offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other Butler AL legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Butler AL legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring Butler AL legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Butler AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Butler AL, verify classes are available 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. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Program near Butler AL
Selecting the right paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee 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 comfort and privacy of your Butler residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Butler AL.
More About Butler Alabama
Butler County, Alabama
Butler County is a county in the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,947. Its county seat is Greenville. Its name is in honor of Captain William Butler, who was born in Virginia and fought in the Creek War, and who was killed in May 1818.
Butler County was formed from Conecuh County, Alabama, and Monroe County, Alabama, by an act passed December 13, 1819, by the Legislature while in session at Huntsville. This was the first session of the Legislature of Alabama as a State. The name of Fairfield was first proposed for this county, but was changed on the passage of the bill to Butler, in honor of Captain William Butler.
The exact date of the first settlement made by white people in the limits of Butler County is not exactly known. Some records have it as early as 1814, but the earliest settler of no dispute is James K. Benson, who settled in the Flat in 1815, and built the first house ever erected in Butler County. It was built near where Pine Flat Methodist Church now stands, and was made of logs. Shortly after, William Ogly and John Dickerson came with their families and made a settlement on the Federal Road, about 3 miles (5 km) south of where Fort Dale was later erected. In the fall of 1816, a party from the state of Georgia came to settle in Pine Flat, including Thomas Hill, Warren A. Thompson, Captain John Watts, and Benjamin Hill. In 1817, many more settlers arrived.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 20,947 people residing in the county. 54.4% were White, 43.4% Black or African American, 0.8% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% of some other race and 0.8% of two or more races. 0.9% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
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