How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies School near Lanett Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lanett AL and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Lanett homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take 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
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Lanett AL attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more applicable 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 on their own.
Paralegal Programs 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Lanett AL is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding 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 community and junior colleges in the Lanett AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Lanett AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Lanett AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Lanett AL 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 entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within the Lanett AL area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Lanett AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary 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 obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Lanett AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Lanett AL?
If you live near Lanett 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.
Lanett is a city in Chambers County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 6,468, down from 7,897 in 2000. Lanett, originally called Bluffton, is located in eastern Alabama, on the Chattahoochee River, southwest of Atlanta. The city's name is derived from Lafayette Lanier and Theodore Bennett, founders of the West Point Manufacturing Company.
Lanett is located on the eastern edge of Chambers County at 32°51'48.326" North, 85°11'58.862" West (32.863424, -85.199684). Its eastern boundary is the Alabama–Georgia state line, with the town of West Point, Georgia, bordering Lanett to the east. Interstate 85 forms the southeast boundary of Lanett, with the city of Valley, Alabama, on the other side of the highway. The unincorporated community of Huguley is along Lanett's southwest border.
The Chattahoochee River forms the state line and eastern boundary of Lanett from I-85 north to the downtown area, at which point the state line turns north-northwest and becomes a land boundary between Lanett and West Point, Georgia.
Masters Degree In Legal Studies Lanett AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree school is an important 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 Masters Degree In Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Lanett home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Lanett AL.
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