How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Eutaw Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Eutaw AL and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably 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 on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Eutaw residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Eutaw AL with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically 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 comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Eutaw AL paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more apropos 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Eutaw AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Eutaw AL.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for those in Eutaw AL searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing Eutaw AL area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many 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 important aspects to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Eutaw AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Eutaw AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Eutaw AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within your Eutaw AL local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Eutaw AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Eutaw AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Eutaw AL?
Eutaw (/ˈjuːtɔː/ YEW-taw) is a city in and the county seat of Greene County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 2,934. The city was named in honor of the Battle of Eutaw Springs, the last engagement of the American Revolutionary War in the Carolinas.
Eutaw was laid out in December 1838 at the time that Greene County voters chose to relocate the county seat from Erie, which was located on the Black Warrior River. It was incorporated by an act of the state legislature on January 2, 1841.
As the county seat, it also developed as the trading center for the county, which developed an economy based on cultivation and processing of cotton, the chief commodity crop in the antebellum years. The crop was lucrative for major planters, who depended on the labor of enslaved African Americans, and they built a number of fine homes in the city.
Many have been preserved into the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Eutaw has twenty-seven antebellum structures on the National Register of Historic Places. Twenty-three of these are included in the Antebellum Homes in Eutaw multiple property submission. The Coleman-Banks House, Old Greene County Courthouse, First Presbyterian Church, and Kirkwood are listed individually. Additionally, the Greene County Courthouse Square District is a listed historic district in the heart of downtown. A nearby property, Everhope Plantation, is also listed in the register.
Choose the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Eutaw AL
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Eutaw residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Eutaw AL.
Other Cool Cities in Alabama