How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Geneva Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Geneva AL and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Geneva homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially 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 separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Geneva AL lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering 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 carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 launch your career as a paralegal in Geneva AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations in the field 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 program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Geneva AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation 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 ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Geneva AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good 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 call a few Geneva AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what 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 outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Geneva AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing 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 confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Geneva AL region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Geneva AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Geneva AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Geneva AL?
If you live near Geneva 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.
Geneva is a city in and the county seat of Geneva County, Alabama, United States. It was incorporated in 1875. It is part of the Dothan, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. Since 1940, it has been the largest city of Geneva County, and had a population of 4,452 as of the 2010 census.
In late December 1862, the stern-wheel steamship Bloomer was in port on the Choctawhatchee River in Geneva. She was captured by a group of Union troops from the 91st New York Volunteers led by Lieutenant James H. Stewart. The Bloomer was then taken to Pensacola, Florida.
Geneva is located south of the center of Geneva County at 31°2′17″N 85°52′36″W / 31.03806°N 85.87667°W / 31.03806; -85.87667 (31.038181, -85.876677), at the confluence of the Pea River with the Choctawhatchee River. Alabama State Route 52 passes through the city north of downtown, leading northeast 11 miles (18 km) to Hartford and northwest 12 miles (19 km) to Samson. Dothan is 34 miles (55 km) to the northeast via Route 52. Alabama State Route 27 passes through the center of Geneva, leading north 22 miles (35 km) to Enterprise and southwest 5 miles (8 km) to the Florida border.
Paralegal College Geneva AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal training school is an essential 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 Paralegal College. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Geneva residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Geneva AL.
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