How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Glenwood Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Glenwood AL and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Glenwood homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Alabama Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Glenwood AL lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for Glenwood AL attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many Glenwood AL area community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited Glenwood AL area school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available in Glenwood AL and can be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly 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 programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school 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 earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at Glenwood AL area community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to think about as well, 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 schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Glenwood AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered 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 particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since Glenwood AL employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other Glenwood AL legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs 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 large networks and good relationships with Glenwood AL legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the local Glenwood AL legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those schools that are within your local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Glenwood AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Glenwood AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Ideal Paralegal College near Glenwood AL
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Glenwood residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Glenwood AL.
More About Glenwood Alabama
As of the census of 2000, there were 191 people, 92 households, and 58 families residing in the town. The population density was 262.8 people per square mile (101.0/km²). There were 118 housing units at an average density of 162.3 per square mile (62.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 69.11% White, 29.84% Black or African American, and 1.05% from two or more races. 0.52% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 92 households out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.8% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.59.
In the town, the population was spread out with 18.3% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.3 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $28,750, and the median income for a family was $36,875. Males had a median income of $31,250 versus $21,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,074. About 7.4% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.2% of those under the age of eighteen and 25.0% of those sixty five or over.
Related Cities in Alabama