How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Sycamore Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Sycamore AL and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their Sycamore homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Sycamore AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready 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 involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals 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 otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Sycamore AL is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial 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 about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Sycamore AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential 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 important factors to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Sycamore AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Sycamore AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Sycamore AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Sycamore AL area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Sycamore AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Sycamore AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure 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 example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Sycamore AL?
If you live near Sycamore 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.
Timber Sycamore was a classified weapons supply and training program run by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported by some Arab intelligence services, such as the security service in Saudi Arabia. Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. According to US officials, the program has trained thousands of rebels. President Barack Obama secretly authorized the CIA to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013.
The program's existence was suspected after the US Federal Business Opportunities website publicly solicited contract bids to ship tons of weaponry from Eastern Europe to Taşucu, Turkey and Aqaba, Jordan. One unintended consequence of the program has been a flood of US weapons including assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades into Middle East's black market.
In July 2017, US officials stated that Timber Sycamore would be phased out, with funds possibly redirected to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or to offering rebel forces defensive capabilities.
Schools That Offer Paralegal Degrees Sycamore AL
Choosing the ideal legal assistant training school is a vital 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 Schools That Offer Paralegal Degrees. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Sycamore residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Sycamore AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest