How to Pick a Paralegal School near Bay Minette Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Bay Minette AL and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Bay Minette residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Bay Minette AL with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Bay Minette AL paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Bay Minette AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Bay Minette AL.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Bay Minette AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Bay Minette AL area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree 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 covered, there are other important issues to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Bay Minette AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Bay Minette AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Bay Minette AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those schools that are within your Bay Minette AL local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Bay Minette AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Bay Minette AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Bay Minette AL?
Bay Minette, Alabama
In the first days of Baldwin County, the town of McIntosh Bluff (now in Mobile County, west of Baldwin County) on the Tombigbee River was the county seat. After being transferred to the town of Blakeley in 1810, the county seat was later moved to the city of Daphne in 1868. In 1900, by an act of the legislature of Alabama, the county seat was authorized for relocation to the city of Bay Minette; however, the city of Daphne resisted relocation. The citizens of Bay Minette moved the county records from Daphne in the middle of the night on October 11–12, 1901 and delivered them to the city of Bay Minette - where the Baldwin County seat remains to this day. A mural for the new post office built in 1937 was commissioned by the WPA and painted by Hilton Leech of Bridgeport, Connecticut, to commemorate this event.
In September 2011, the town attempted to enact a program called "Operation Restore Our Community". It would have allowed those convicted of a misdemeanor to substitute imprisonment with mandatory church attendance for one year. However, this program was challenged due to violating separation of church and state, and the program's start was delayed for judicial review. It appears to have been scrapped.
Bay Minette is located near the center of Baldwin County in southern Alabama at 30°53′0″N 87°46′38″W / 30.88333°N 87.77722°W / 30.88333; -87.77722 (30.883446, -87.777183). It is sited on high ground 5 miles (8 km) east of the Mobile River/Tensaw River valley and 6 miles (10 km) west of the Florida border formed by the Perdido River. U.S. Route 31 passes through the center of the city, leading south to Spanish Fort and northeast to Atmore. Interstate 65 passes about 5 miles (8 km) north of the city, with access from exit 34 (State Route 59) and exit 37 (State Route 287).
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Bay Minette has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. 
Find the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Bay Minette AL
Selecting the right paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Bay Minette home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Bay Minette AL.
Other Cool Cities in Alabama
Business Results 1 - 10 of 7