How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Guin Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Guin AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Guin residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold 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 are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Guin AL attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep 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. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Guin AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once 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 practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Guin AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include 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 crucial aspects to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and 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 might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Guin 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 accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Guin AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Guin AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Guin AL area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Guin AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Guin AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure 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 disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Guin AL?
If you live near Guin 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.
Guin is a city in Marion County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area. It incorporated in December 1889. At the 2010 census the population was 2,376.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,389 people, 1,027 households, and 666 families residing in the city. The population density was 191.5 people per square mile (74.0/km²). There were 1,168 housing units at an average density of 93.6 per square mile (36.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.69% White, 11.85% Black or African American, 0.46% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.29% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. 0.54% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,027 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.88.
What Is A Paralegal Degree Guin AL
Choosing the best paralegal studies degree school is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about What Is A Paralegal Degree. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Guin residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Guin AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest