How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant School near Shannon Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Shannon AL and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Shannon homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, 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.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Shannon AL attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties 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 firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Shannon AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Shannon AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Shannon AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Shannon AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Shannon AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out 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 sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those schools that are within the Shannon AL region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Shannon AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Shannon AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program 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 Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs 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 especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Shannon AL?
If you live near Shannon 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.
The River Shannon (Irish: Abha na Sionainne, an tSionainn, an tSionna) is the longest river in Ireland at 360.5 km (224 miles). It drains the Shannon River Basin which has an area of 16,865 km2 (6,512 sq mi), one fifth of the area of Ireland.
The Shannon divides the west of Ireland (principally the province of Connacht) from the east and south (Leinster and most of Munster). County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception. The river represents a major physical barrier between east and west, with fewer than thirty-five crossing-points between Limerick city in the south and the village of Dowra in the north.
The Shannon has been an important waterway since antiquity, having first been mapped by the Graeco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy. The river flows generally southwards from the Shannon Pot in County Cavan before turning west and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean through the 102.1 km (63.4 mi) long Shannon Estuary. Limerick city stands at the point where the river water meets the sea water of the estuary. The Shannon is tidal east of Limerick as far as the base of the Ardnacrusha dam.
Legal Assistant Education Requirements Shannon AL
Enrolling in the best legal assistant degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Legal Assistant Education Requirements. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Shannon home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Shannon AL.
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