How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Perdue Hill Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Perdue Hill AL and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Perdue Hill homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Alabama Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Perdue Hill AL lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including 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 firm might help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep 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 complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for Perdue Hill AL attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous Perdue Hill AL area community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish 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 Perdue Hill AL area program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular in Perdue Hill AL and may be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at Perdue Hill AL area junior and community colleges, in addition to 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 also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Perdue Hill AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Alabama legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since Perdue Hill AL employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other Perdue Hill AL legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing 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 Perdue Hill AL legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local Perdue Hill AL legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Perdue Hill AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Perdue Hill AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Select the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Perdue Hill AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Perdue Hill residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Perdue Hill AL.
More About Perdue Hill Alabama
Jon B. Perdue
Jon B. Perdue is an American counterterrorism author and analyst. He is a special assistant at the Department of the Treasury for the Trump administration. He is also an inventor who appears on season one of the CNBC reality docu-series Make Me a Millionaire Inventor. He has worked for educational and security-related think tanks in Washington, DC and Latin America, and has lectured on asymmetric warfare and strategic communication. He has written for national security publications and has published articles in Investor's Business Daily, The Washington Times, Fox News,The Miami Herald, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has given testimony on national and international security issues before members of the U.S. congress and to members of the European Parliament.
Perdue grew up in Thomaston, Georgia, and graduated from the University of North Georgia (formerly North Georgia College), a senior military college in Dahlonega, Georgia, with a degree in finance, and served in the Georgia Army National Guard.
Perdue worked for several years as a business consultant, later becoming the vice president of business development for Infectech, a Pennsylvania-based biotech company, until it was acquired by Nutrapharma in October 2003. Following the Nutrapharma acquisition, Perdue moved to Latin America to start a company importing ambulances and medical equipment and setting up medical clinics for underserved patients in partnership with the non-profit Salud sin Fronteras (Healthcare Without Borders). After selling the medical import business in 2004, he began working with non-profit education-focused think tanks in Latin America and the U.S. In 2008, he moved to Washington, DC to become the founding director of the Institute for Leadership in the Americas, a Latin America-focused educational program of The Fund for American Studies.
Perdue began writing on politics and foreign policy in the late 1990s, and had studied radical movements and guerrilla warfare in Latin America since first traveling to the region in 1998. He renewed his writing on the subject after moving to Washington in 2008. In 2012, he was named a Senior Fellow at the Center for a Secure Free Society, an international security think tank based in Washington, DC, and published his first book, The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies on national security and asymmetric warfare, and wrote the foreword to the book "Rethinking the Reset Button: Understanding Contemporary Russian Foreign Policy" by Soviet defector Evgueni Novikov. He also contributed a chapter titled "A Marriage of Radical Ideologies" for the book Iran's Strategic Penetration of Latin America (Lexington Books, 2014). Perdue has worked unofficially on three presidential campaigns, contributing foreign policy and counterterrorism policy advice.
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