How to Pick a Paralegal College near Jackson Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Jackson AL and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Jackson residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later in this article 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 prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly 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 for the most part both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Jackson AL with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Jackson AL paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Jackson AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Jackson AL.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be a good option for those in Jackson AL searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater 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 attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Jackson AL area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of 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 issues to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Jackson AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Jackson AL paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Jackson AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high 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 students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ 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 graduating. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Jackson AL local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Jackson AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Jackson AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Jackson AL?
Alvin Neill Jackson (born December 26, 1935), affectionately referred to as "Little" Al Jackson, is a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who played from 1959 to 1969. His 43 wins with the New York Mets were the franchise record until Tom Seaver eased past the mark in 1969.
Listed at 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m), 169 pounds (77 kg), Jackson was born in Waco, Texas, and attended Wiley College. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1955 but his first regular major league experience came as a member of the inaugural 1962 New York Mets. As a starting pitcher, he posted an 8–20 record that year. The 40–120 record of those 1962 Mets continues to be the most losses by a Major League team in a single season since the 19th Century. On August 14, 1962, Jackson pitched a complete game 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 4 hours 35 minutes – the longest complete game in terms of playing time in Major League history.
After three more seasons of sixteen or more losses with the Mets, including a second 8–20 campaign, Jackson was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ken Boyer. In 1966, his first year in St. Louis, Jackson had his best season in the majors. He was sixth in the National League in earned run average and ninth in complete games. Unfortunately for Jackson, he also lost fifteen games and, the next year, was used more as a relief pitcher. Those 15 losses gave him a five-year streak of at least 15 losses—the record since 1900 is six. Despite going 9–4 in 1967, he did not see action in the 1967 World Series.
After the 1967 season, Jackson was traded back to the Mets for pitcher Jack Lamabe and continued pitching out of the bullpen. He was with the "Miracle" Mets of 1969 but was sold to the Cincinnati Reds in June after compiling an ERA over ten, and never did play in a postseason.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Program near Jackson AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Jackson home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Jackson AL.
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