How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Butler Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Butler AL and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, 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. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Butler residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 positions and responsibilities, just 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 help attorneys in Butler AL with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Butler AL paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Butler AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 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 first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Butler AL.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good option for those in Butler AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Butler AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as 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 include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Butler AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Butler AL paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Butler AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial 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? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Butler AL local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Butler AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Butler AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Butler AL?
Butler County, Alabama
Butler County is a county in the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,947. Its county seat is Greenville. Its name is in honor of Captain William Butler, who was born in Virginia and fought in the Creek War, and who was killed in May 1818.
Butler County was formed from Conecuh County, Alabama, and Monroe County, Alabama, by an act passed December 13, 1819, by the Legislature while in session at Huntsville. This was the first session of the Legislature of Alabama as a State. The name of Fairfield was first proposed for this county, but was changed on the passage of the bill to Butler, in honor of Captain William Butler.
The exact date of the first settlement made by white people in the limits of Butler County is not exactly known. Some records have it as early as 1814, but the earliest settler of no dispute is James K. Benson, who settled in the Flat in 1815, and built the first house ever erected in Butler County. It was built near where Pine Flat Methodist Church now stands, and was made of logs. Shortly after, William Ogly and John Dickerson came with their families and made a settlement on the Federal Road, about 3 miles (5 km) south of where Fort Dale was later erected. In the fall of 1816, a party from the state of Georgia came to settle in Pine Flat, including Thomas Hill, Warren A. Thompson, Captain John Watts, and Benjamin Hill. In 1817, many more settlers arrived.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 20,947 people residing in the county. 54.4% were White, 43.4% Black or African American, 0.8% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% of some other race and 0.8% of two or more races. 0.9% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal College near Butler AL
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered 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 Butler residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Butler 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.