How to Pick a Paralegal School near Moulton Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Moulton AL and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Moulton residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 essentially both hold the same 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 separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Moulton AL with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Moulton AL paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, 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 functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Moulton AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Moulton AL.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good option for those in Moulton 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 programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Moulton AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Moulton AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Moulton 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 quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Moulton AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging 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 sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire 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 wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Moulton AL local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Moulton AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Moulton AL, make certain 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. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Moulton AL?
Moulton is a city in Lawrence County, Alabama, United States and is included in the Decatur Metropolitan Area, as well as the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. Although it incorporated in 1819, along with its rival of Courtland, to compete for the honor of county seat, it did not first appear on the U.S. Census rolls until 1900. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 3,471, its record high. The city has been the county seat of Lawrence County since 1820. It has been the largest community in the county since the 1920 U.S. Census.
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,471 people, 1,482 households, and 912 families residing in the city. The population density was 552.1 people per square mile (213.3/km²). There were 1,486 housing units at an average density of 251.7 per square mile (97.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.2% White, 13.1% Black or African American, 4.1% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. 1.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,482 households out of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the city, the population was spread out with 20.7% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 21.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.2 males.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Moulton 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 addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Moulton residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Moulton AL.
Other Cool Cities in Alabama