How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Lanett Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lanett AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Lanett residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly 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 fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Lanett AL with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Lanett AL paralegal can be complicated 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 paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more suited 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Lanett AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many 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 may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Lanett AL.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those in Lanett AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing Lanett AL area schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective 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 critical aspects to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Lanett AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Lanett AL paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Lanett AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering 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 good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Lanett AL local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Lanett AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lanett AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Lanett AL?
Lanett is a city in Chambers County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 6,468, down from 7,897 in 2000. Lanett, originally called Bluffton, is located in eastern Alabama, on the Chattahoochee River, southwest of Atlanta. The city's name is derived from Lafayette Lanier and Theodore Bennett, founders of the West Point Manufacturing Company.
Lanett is located on the eastern edge of Chambers County at 32°51'48.326" North, 85°11'58.862" West (32.863424, -85.199684). Its eastern boundary is the Alabama–Georgia state line, with the town of West Point, Georgia, bordering Lanett to the east. Interstate 85 forms the southeast boundary of Lanett, with the city of Valley, Alabama, on the other side of the highway. The unincorporated community of Huguley is along Lanett's southwest border.
The Chattahoochee River forms the state line and eastern boundary of Lanett from I-85 north to the downtown area, at which point the state line turns north-northwest and becomes a land boundary between Lanett and West Point, Georgia.
As of the census of 2010, there were 6,468 people, 2,723 households, and 1,746 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,040 people per square mile (401.5/km²). There were 3,338 housing units at an average density of 538 per square mile (207/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.5% Black or African American, 39.3% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 1.4% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. 2.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Find the Right Paralegal Training near Lanett AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Lanett residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational 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 broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Lanett 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.