How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Lincoln Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Lincoln AL and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Lincoln residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly 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 essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Lincoln AL lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Lincoln AL is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed 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 employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Lincoln AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly 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 respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Lincoln AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Lincoln 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 the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Lincoln AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within the Lincoln AL region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Lincoln AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Lincoln AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more available and can be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Lincoln AL?
If you live near Lincoln 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.
Albert Lincoln Roker Jr. (born August 20, 1954) is an American weather forecaster, journalist, television personality, actor, and author. He is the current weather anchor on NBC's Today. Roker also appears occasionally as a co-anchor on NBC Nightly News. He has an inactive American Meteorological Society Television Seal #238.
On November 12, 2014, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Roker attempted to beat the unofficial world record for an uninterrupted live weather report of 33 hours held by Norwegian weather broadcaster Eli Kari Gjengedal. On November 14, 2014, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Roker set the Guinness World Record by reporting for 34 hours. On the December 14, 2018 episode of the Today Show, Al Roker was honored for 40 years at NBC. The Today Show Plaza was officially named the Rokerfeller Plaza in his honor .
Al Roker was born in Queens, New York, the son of Isabel, of Jamaican descent, and Albert Lincoln Roker Sr., a bus driver of Bahamian descent. Roker initially wanted to be a cartoonist. He was raised Catholic (in the faith of his mother) and graduated from Xavier High School in Manhattan. He worked on several projects as a member of the school's Cartooning & Illustration Club. He attended the State University of New York at Oswego where he received a B.A. in communications in 1976.
Paralegal School Requirements Lincoln AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies training 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 Paralegal School Requirements. 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 privacy and comfort of your Lincoln residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Lincoln AL.
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