How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Chapman Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Chapman AL and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Chapman residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important 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 considered also. Later on 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 before making your decision. But first, let’s take 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 roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Chapman AL with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. 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 normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Chapman AL paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Chapman AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Chapman AL.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those in Chapman AL searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater 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 school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Chapman AL area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Chapman AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Chapman AL paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Chapman AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those colleges that are within your Chapman AL local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Chapman 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 Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Chapman AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Chapman AL?
Camp Chapman attack
The Camp Chapman attack was a suicide attack by Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi against the Central Intelligence Agency facility inside Forward Operating Base Chapman on December 30, 2009. FOB Chapman is located near the eastern Afghanistan city of Khost, which is about 10 miles northwest of the border with Pakistan. One of the main tasks of the CIA personnel stationed at the base was to provide intelligence supporting drone attacks against targets in Pakistan. Seven American CIA officers and contractors, an officer of Jordan's intelligence service, and an Afghan working for the CIA were killed when al-Balawi detonated a bomb sewn into a vest he was wearing. Six other American CIA officers were wounded. The bombing was the most lethal attack against the CIA in more than 25 years.
Al-Balawi was a Jordanian doctor and jihadist website writer who was detained and interrogated over three days by the Jordanian intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), in January 2009. The GID and the CIA thought they had turned al-Balawi to penetrate al-Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal areas to provide intelligence for high-level targets. Instead, al-Balawi used this trust to gain access to the CIA base in Afghanistan unsearched and perpetrate the attack. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, saying they helped al-Balawi with the attack.
On December 30, 2009, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was picked up by Arghawan, an Afghan who was the chief of external security at Camp Chapman, at the border between Miranshah, Pakistan, and Khost, Afghanistan.(pp166–7) Arghawan drove al-Balawi to Camp Chapman, arriving around 4:30 pm.
The car was waved through three security checkpoints without stopping before arriving at its destination well within the base.(pp170–1) Sixteen people were waiting for the car near a building set up to debrief al-Balawi.(p197) Al-Balawi got out of the vehicle and detonated the explosives hidden in his suicide vest.
Choose the Best Paralegal Program near Chapman AL
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Chapman residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Chapman AL.
Other Cool Cities in Alabama