How to Select the Right Legal Assistant School near Greensboro Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Greensboro AL and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Greensboro homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, 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 for the most part both fill the same job roles and functions, 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 paralegals and legal assistants help Greensboro AL attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Greensboro AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Greensboro AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Greensboro AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Greensboro AL law firms 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 among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Greensboro AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within the Greensboro AL area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Greensboro AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Greensboro AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more common and may be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Greensboro AL?
If you live near Greensboro 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.
Greensboro is a city in Hale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 2,497, down from 2,731 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Hale County, Alabama, which was not organized until 1867. It is part of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Greensboro was incorporated as a town in December 1823 as "Greensborough". It was named in honor of American Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene. The name was soon simplified to "Greensboro". The community was known as "Troy" prior to incorporation.
Reflecting the history of the antebellum years and a culture built on cotton plantations to produce the commodity crop, several sites on the National Register of Historic Places in or near Greensboro are connected to this past. These include Glencairn, the Greensboro Historic District, Magnolia Grove, the McGehee-Stringfellow House, Millwood, and the Payne House.
Top Paralegal Schools Greensboro AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is a vital 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 Top Paralegal Schools. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Greensboro residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Greensboro AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest