How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Program near Albertville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Albertville AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools within driving range of their Albertville residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, 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 Albertville AL lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Albertville AL is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may 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 an option as well. When you have acquired 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 maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Albertville AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify 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 as well. A number of Albertville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Albertville AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Albertville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within the Albertville AL region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Albertville AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Albertville AL, make sure 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 offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more 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 program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Albertville AL?
If you live near Albertville 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 area which today includes Albertville was inhabited by the Cherokee Indians until their removal to Oklahoma in the 1830s. It was, however, near the territory of the Creek nation, and several major trails which afforded communication (or military action) between the two nations crossed the area. It is believed to have been crossed by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto during his expeditions in 1540.
The first non-indigenous settlement in what is today Albertville began in the 1850s, and the settlement was named for Thomas A. Albert, an early settler who moved from Georgia and was a town leader until his death in 1876. The city was incorporated in 1891. A post office was established in 1910.
At about 4:10 p.m. on April 24, 1908, the city was virtually wiped out by a tornado that became commonly called "The Great Cyclone," or "The Cyclone of 1908." The storm is believed to have killed 35 people across northeastern Alabama, including 15 in Albertville. Relief was largely delivered by railroad, particularly from the nearby city of Gadsden. Trains from Gadsden transported doctors, nurses, and the Queen City Guards, the Alabama militia company based in Gadsden. The commander of the latter, future Gadsden mayor and Col. R.A. Mitchell, reported in a dispatch to Governor B.B. Comer:
Paralegal Certificate Online Albertville AL
Selecting the right paralegal certificate 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 Paralegal Certificate Online. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Albertville home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Albertville AL.
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