How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Laceys Spring Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Laceys Spring AL and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Laceys Spring homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered also. Later on in this post we will cover 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 decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, 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 attorneys in Laceys Spring AL with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Laceys Spring AL paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Laceys Spring AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Laceys Spring AL.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those in Laceys Spring AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Laceys Spring AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Laceys Spring AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Laceys Spring AL paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Laceys Spring AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within your Laceys Spring AL local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Laceys Spring AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Laceys Spring AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Laceys Spring AL?
Lacey's Spring, Alabama
Lacey's Spring is an unincorporated community in northeastern Morgan County, Alabama, United States at the base of Brindlee Mountain. It is included in the Decatur Metropolitan Area, as well as the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.
Choose the Right Paralegal School near Laceys Spring AL
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Laceys Spring residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Laceys Spring 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.