How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Carrollton Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Carrollton AL and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within driving distance of their Carrollton residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Carrollton AL lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready 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 complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Carrollton AL is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Carrollton AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 previously covered, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Carrollton AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing 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 several Carrollton AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Carrollton AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. 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 consider those colleges that are within the Carrollton AL region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Carrollton AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Carrollton AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more common and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Carrollton AL?
If you live near Carrollton Alabama or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The Pickens County Courthouse in the center of Carrollton was erected in 1877. The first courthouse in Carrollton was burned on April 5, 1865 by troops of Union General John T. Croxton. A second courthouse was destroyed by a fire on November 16, 1876.
Incorporated in 1831, the town was named after Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, the only Roman Catholic and longest-living signer of the Declaration of Independence. A post office has been in operation at Carrollton since 1831.
As was typical, the county jail was located at the courthouse. The courthouse square was used frequently as a site for public lynchings by whites of African Americans, part of numerous efforts to suppress them during a time of high tensions as whites struggled for dominance. It was part of a program of intimidation and racial terrorism, with these murders frequent in the decades on either side of the turn of the 20th century. Among the numerous African Americans lynched in Carrollton was John Gibson, hanged on August 28, 1907. Pickens County had the fifth highest total of lynchings in Alabama, according to Lynching in America (2015, 3rd edition), published by the Equal Justice Initiative.
Legal Studies Online Classes Carrollton AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal certificate school is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Legal Studies Online Classes. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Carrollton residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior 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 prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Carrollton AL.
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