How to Find a Paralegal School near Abbeville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Abbeville AL and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Abbeville homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just 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 paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Abbeville AL with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Abbeville AL paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, 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 limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Abbeville AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Abbeville AL.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students in Abbeville AL searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Abbeville AL area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to consider 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 programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Abbeville AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Abbeville AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Abbeville AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement 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 confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Abbeville AL local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Abbeville AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Abbeville 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 choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Abbeville AL?
Abbeville is a city in Henry County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Dothan, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census, the population was 2,688. The city is the county seat of Henry County. It is the first city alphabetically, both by city and state, in the Rand McNally Road Atlas. It has two high schools: the public Abbeville High School and private Abbeville Christian Academy. Chapters of the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity operate here.
Abbeville is located at 31°33′59″N 85°15′5″W / 31.56639°N 85.25139°W / 31.56639; -85.25139Coordinates: 31°33′59″N 85°15′5″W / 31.56639°N 85.25139°W / 31.56639; -85.25139 (31.566367, -85.251300). The city is located in southeastern Alabama along U.S. Route 431, Alabama State Route 10, and Alabama State Route 27 approximately 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Dothan and 23 mi (37 km) south-southwest of Eufaula.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Abbeville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
Abbeville is the oldest remaining colonial settlement in East Alabama from Florida to the Tennessee line. It is older than either the county of Henry and the State of Alabama. European Americans set up an active trading post in Abbeville in Alabama Territory early in 1819. The first settler gateway to the wiregrass region was at Franklin, located fourteen miles west of Abbeville.
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Abbeville AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Abbeville residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Abbeville AL.
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