How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Monroeville Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Monroeville AL and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Monroeville residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices 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 roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Monroeville AL with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Monroeville AL paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Monroeville AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can 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 an option as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Monroeville AL.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good option for individuals in Monroeville AL looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Monroeville AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate 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 begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Monroeville AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Monroeville AL paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program 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 rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Monroeville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within your Monroeville AL local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Monroeville AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Monroeville AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Monroeville AL?
It is known as the hometown of two prominent writers of the post-World War II period, Truman Capote and Harper Lee, who were childhood friends in the 1930s. Lee's 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, earned her the Pulitzer Prize. The lasting fame of To Kill a Mockingbird became a tourist draw for the town. In 1997, the Alabama Legislature designated Monroeville and Monroe County as the "Literary Capital of Alabama."
The town was initially known as Walker's Mill and Store, named for Major Walker, the area's first white settler. In 1832, the county seat was relocated to Monroeville from Claiborne on the Alabama River. The settlement was briefly renamed "Centerville" due to its location in the center of the county, but then it was formally changed to Monroeville. The town was not formally incorporated until April 15, 1899.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.4 square miles (34.7 km2), of which 13.4 square miles (34.6 km2) is land and 0.0077 square miles (0.02 km2), or 0.05%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,862 people, 2,687 households, and 1,870 families residing in the city. The population density was 525.8 people per square mile (203.0/km²). There were 3,016 housing units at an average density of 231.1 per square mile (89.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 53.09% White, 44.84% Black or African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.15% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. 0.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Program near Monroeville AL
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Monroeville residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Monroeville 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.