How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Foley Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Foley AL and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. 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 becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Foley residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Alabama Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Foley AL attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for Foley AL attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous Foley AL area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 Foley AL area program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available in Foley AL and may be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary 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 address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at Foley AL area junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include 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 already covered, there are other important issues to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized 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 targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Foley AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Alabama legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since Foley AL employers will have 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 furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other Foley AL legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Foley AL legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area Foley AL legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within your local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Foley AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Foley AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Ideal Legal Assistant Degree Program near Foley AL
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Foley residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Foley AL.
More About Foley Alabama
Foley is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States. The 2010 census lists the population of the city as 14,618. Foley is a principal city of the Daphne–Fairhope–Foley Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Baldwin County.
Foley was named for its founder, John B. Foley of Chicago.As Foley was traveling to President McKinley's funeral in 1901, he met a railroad agent who told him of the area in South Baldwin County. Foley came down the following year, and he liked what he saw and bought up to between 40,000 acres (160 km2) and 50,000 acres (200 km2) of land. He then returned to Chicago and formed the Magnolia Land Company. As he began to sell off acreage, he realized the need for a better way for the people to come to Foley.
Foley used some of his own money to lay the rails so the train could come from Bay Minette. The first railroad station was built in 1905. The original station burned in 1908 and was replaced the following year by the station that is now the City's museum. John Foley donated parcels of land for a school and churches. These included the current Catholic Church, Saint Margaret of Scotland, the Baptist church and the Methodist church. The first train to service Foley was a wood burner called the "Pine Knot Special." It would leave Foley in the morning and make a return trip in the afternoon. As people cleared the land, they would place lighter knots in a wood box for the engineer to use as was needed. Foley was incorporated in 1915 with G. I. Weatherly serving as its first mayor.
As of the census of 2010, there were 14,618 people, 6,165 households, and 4,124 families residing in the city. The population density was 530.8 people per square mile (205.1/km²). There were 7,359 housing units at an average density of 284.1 per square mile (198.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.1% White, 14.9% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 4.7% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. 9.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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