How to Choose a Paralegal School near Hanceville Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hanceville AL and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Hanceville residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must 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 exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices 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 hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Hanceville AL with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level 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 tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Hanceville AL paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Hanceville AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations in the field 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Hanceville AL.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good option for those in Hanceville AL searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Hanceville AL area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Hanceville AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Hanceville AL paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Hanceville AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might 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 develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. 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 want to initially look at those schools that are within your Hanceville AL local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, 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 also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Hanceville AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Hanceville AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Hanceville AL?
Founded in Blount County, Hanceville was incorporated in May 1879. At the time of Cullman County's creation in 1877, half of Hanceville resided in each county. In 1885, county boundaries were redrawn and all of Hanceville was placed within Blount County. In 1901, county boundaries were redrawn again and this time all of the town was placed within Cullman County, for which it has remained.
Hanceville is located in southeastern Cullman County at 34°3′48″N 86°45′39″W / 34.06333°N 86.76083°W / 34.06333; -86.76083 (34.063463, -86.760908).U.S. Route 31 passes through the city, leading north 9 miles (14 km) to Cullman, the county seat, and south 14 miles (23 km) to Smoke Rise.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,951 people, 1,167 households, and 710 families residing in the city. The population density was 718.6 people per square mile (277.2/km²). There were 1,323 housing units at an average density of 322.2 per square mile (124.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.09% White, 4.61% Black or African American, 0.61% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.75% from other races, and 0.85% from two or more races. 2.30% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,167 households out of which 24.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.8% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.84.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Hanceville AL
Choosing the best paralegal educational 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 choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Hanceville residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Hanceville 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.