How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Auburn University Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Auburn University AL and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Auburn University homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Auburn University AL with a diverse array 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 legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Auburn University AL paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical 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 are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 start your career in Auburn University AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Auburn University AL.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students in Auburn University AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address 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 certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Auburn University AL area schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Auburn University AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Auburn University AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Auburn University AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high 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? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within your Auburn University AL local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Auburn University AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Auburn University AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Auburn University AL?
Auburn University (AU or Auburn) is a land-grant and public research university in Auburn, Alabama, United States. With more than 23,000 undergraduate students and a total enrollment of more than 30,000 with 1,260 faculty members, Auburn is the second largest university in Alabama. Auburn University is one of the state's two public flagship universities.
Auburn was chartered on February 1, 1856, as East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1872, under the Morrill Act, it became the state's first public land-grant university and was renamed as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. In 1892, it became the first four-year coeducational school in Alabama, and in 1899 was renamed Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API) to reflect its changing mission. In 1960, its name was changed to Auburn University to acknowledge the varied academic programs and larger curriculum of a major university. In 1964, under Federal Court mandate, AU admitted its first student of color.
The Alabama Legislature chartered the institution as the East Alabama Male College on February 1, 1856, coming under the guidance of the Methodist Church in 1859. Its first president was Reverend William J. Sasnett, and the school opened its doors in 1859 to a student body of eighty and a faculty of ten.
Auburn's early history is inextricably linked with the Civil War and the Reconstruction-era South. Classes were held in "Old Main" until the college was closed due to the war, when most of the students and faculty left to enlist. The campus was a training ground for the Confederate Army, and "Old Main" served as a hospital for Confederate wounded.
Find the Right Paralegal College near Auburn University AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Auburn University home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Auburn University AL.
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Paralegal Studies | California State University, East Bay
Area of study: Certificate in Paralegal Studies. Ideal for: Professionals interested in working with attorneys in all areas of civil and criminal law as a paralegal and who wish to meet the educational requirements dictated by California Law. Current paralegals who seek to differentiate themselves with an ABA-approved Paralegal Studies Certificate.