How to Select the Right Legal Assistant School near Chapman Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Chapman AL and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Chapman residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Chapman AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education 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 academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Chapman AL is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Chapman AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation 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 effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. 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 Chapman AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Chapman AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Chapman AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire 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 investigate those colleges that are within the Chapman AL region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember 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 be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Chapman AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Chapman AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater 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 highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Chapman AL?
If you live near Chapman 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.
Camp Chapman attack
The Camp Chapman attack was a suicide attack by Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi against the Central Intelligence Agency facility inside Forward Operating Base Chapman on December 30, 2009. One of the main tasks of the CIA personnel stationed at the base was to provide intelligence supporting drone attacks against Pakistan. Seven American CIA officers and contractors, an officer of Jordan's intelligence service, and an Afghan working for the CIA were killed when al-Balawi detonated a bomb sewn into a vest he was wearing. Six other American CIA officers were wounded. The bombing was the most lethal attack against the CIA in more than 25 years.
Al-Balawi was a Jordanian doctor and jihadist website writer who was detained and interrogated over three days by the Jordanian intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID). The GID and the CIA thought they had turned al-Balawi to penetrate al-Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal areas to provide intelligence for high-level targets. Instead, al-Balawi used this trust to gain access to the CIA base in Afghanistan unsearched and perpetrate the attack. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, saying they helped al-Balawi with the attack.
On December 30, 2009, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was picked up by Arghawan, an Afghan who was the chief of external security at Camp Chapman, at the border between Miranshah, Pakistan, and Khost, Afghanistan.(pp166–7) Arghawan drove al-Balawi to Camp Chapman, arriving around 4:30 pm.
Becoming A Paralegal Chapman AL
Choosing the right legal assistant certificate school is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Becoming A Paralegal. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Chapman residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, 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 broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Chapman AL.
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