How to Choose a Paralegal School near Eight Mile Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Eight Mile AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Eight Mile residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Eight Mile AL with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. 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 help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves 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 firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Eight Mile AL paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education 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 academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Eight Mile AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 address the benefits 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 Eight Mile AL.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for those in Eight Mile AL searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Eight Mile AL area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively 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 respected organization 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Eight Mile AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Eight Mile AL paralegal programs 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 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 provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Eight Mile AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating 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 secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within your Eight Mile AL local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Eight Mile AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might 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 Eight Mile AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Eight Mile AL?
Eight Mile, Alabama
Eight Mile is an unincorporated community in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The community is named for its distance from the city of Mobile. Part of it was annexed in the mid-20th century by the city of Prichard, Alabama.
In 2008 lightning struck a mercaptan storage tank iat a Mobile Gas Service Corp. underground natural gas pipeline at the Whistler Junction gas transfer facility within the Eight Mile community. An estimated 500 US gallons (1,900 l; 420 imp gal) of Mercaptan, the chemical odorant added to natural gas to help detect leaks, spilled into the soil and groundwater for 6 months, according to Alabama state environmental officials. It has migrated to ponds and surfaced, polluting the community's air.
Beginning in 2011, residents in Eight Mile began complaining of an overwhelming mercaptan odor and associated health problems. They have concerns about the damage to their health from the chemical, and to property values from its persistent rotten egg smell. They appealed for a state and federal investigation.
Mobile Gas officials maintained that the odor had nothing to do with their operations; they did not publicly acknowledge the leak or the lightning strike until April 2012. In subsequent court documents, Mobile Gas acknowledged the leak, but claimed the responsibility is with the waste cleanup firms they had hired to get rid of the spilled chemical. Sempra Energy acquired the Eight Mile facility several months after the accident and owned it until September 2016. Sempra Energy also owns the well that caused the massive 2015−16 Aliso Canyon gas leak in the Santa Susana Mountains and San Fernando Valley of Southern California.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal School near Eight Mile AL
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Eight Mile residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Eight Mile AL.
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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.