How to Pick the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Newville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Newville AL and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Newville residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job roles 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 Newville AL lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos 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 are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Newville AL is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Newville AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential 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 significant issues to research as well, including 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 researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Newville AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Newville AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Newville AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Newville AL region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs 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 may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Newville AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Newville 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 makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Newville AL?
If you live near Newville 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.
James Madison Wells founded a village called "Wells" c. 1882. When the Abbeville Southern Railroad laid tracks through the town in 1893, its name was changed to "Wells Station". The post office was built in 1894. Wells Station incorporated as "Newville" in 1903.
The town of Newville became prosperous with merchants, banks, lodges, doctors, churches, Newville High School, Rosenwald High School, societies, a newspaper, a depot, sawmills, cotton gins, mule stables and all the elements required by a developing town. Newville's slow decline commenced after the Great Depression due to farm mechanization and loss of commerce.
James M. and Catherine Wells donated one-half acre of land in 1887 for the site of the church and cemetery. The oldest known grave is that of William Y. Kirkland who died April 10, 1891. The church paid W.M. Harris fifty dollars in 1901 for two and one-half acres of land for the cemetery. In 1947, burial spaces were sold for 25 center per square foot. Nancy Price gave the church one acre of land for the cemetery in 1958. There are over 700 marked and unmarked graves. The Newville Cemetery was listed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register in 2005.
Top Paralegal Programs Newville AL
Selecting the right legal assistant degree program is a crucial 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 Programs. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Newville home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Newville AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 3