How to Find a Paralegal College near Graysville Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Graysville AL and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Graysville residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at 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 for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Graysville AL with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree 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 day-to-day activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Graysville AL paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Graysville AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may 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 available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Graysville AL.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Graysville AL searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing Graysville AL area schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective 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 issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Graysville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Graysville AL paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Graysville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Graysville AL local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Graysville AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Graysville AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Graysville AL?
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, this city was called Gin Town. Because it had the only cotton gin for miles around, the community grew. It incorporated as Graysville initially in 1897. As the town grew, the need for businesses and houses of worship grew as well. One street over from this site, the Union Church was established in the early 1900s. All people of all denominations met and worshiped there as it was the only church for miles around. In 1927, the town charter was revoked on the grounds of "inactivity."
This city was reincorporated on November 17, 1945. The first meeting of the town council took place at the old school house on January 16, 1946. Later that year, the original city council established the Graysville Water Works system. In 1949, the city council established the Graysville Gas Board which eventually became the Graysville Municipal Gas System. During the 1950s and 1960s, the local coal mines and steel mills attracted families from all over Alabama. As a result of this growth, Graysville established the City’s first series of home developments and subdivisions. During the 1980s and 1990s, Graysville expanded its city limits by annexing multiple acres in what was then unincorporated in Jefferson County.
Graysville is located at 33°37′37″N 86°57′44″W / 33.62694°N 86.96222°W / 33.62694; -86.96222 (33.626955, -86.962255). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.3 square miles (16 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,344 people, 976 households, and 696 families residing in the city. The population density was 373.1 people per square mile (144.1/km²). There were 1,090 housing units at an average density of 173.5 per square mile (67.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.26% White, 23.12% Black or African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.34% Asian, 0.17% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. 0.47% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Best Paralegal School near Graysville AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Graysville residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Graysville 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.