How to Pick a Paralegal School near Pike Road Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Pike Road AL and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Pike Road homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take 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 basically both hold the same 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 Pike Road AL with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Pike Road AL paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Pike Road AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Pike Road AL.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal programs have become more common and may be an excellent option for individuals in Pike Road AL searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Pike Road AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Pike Road AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Pike Road AL paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Pike Road AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those schools that are within your Pike Road AL local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Pike Road AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced 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 only attend night or weekend classes near Pike Road AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Pike Road AL?
Pike Road, Alabama
Pike Road is a town in Montgomery County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town was 310. The 2010 census indicated a population of 5,406. It is part of the Montgomery metropolitan area.
The current town council members are: Chris Dunn, Angie Bradsher, Betsy Atkins, Leroy Tolliver and Rob Steindorff. The Pike Road Town Council meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month as well as the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:00 a.m. Meetings are held in the council chamber at Pike Road Town Hall (9575 Vaughn Road).
By the time of the 2010 census, there were 5,406 people residing in Pike Road with the town now having 1,933 households, and 1606 families. The town's population grew almost 20-fold since the 2000 census, making it one of the fastest growing incorporated places in Alabama with a population of over 5,000 in 2010. Population is 8,777 as of 2016.
The 2010 census population profile by race showed 68.5% White, 28.7% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.4% Asian American, and 1.3% Hispanic or Latino persons of any race living within the town limits. Roughly 0.8% of the population was of two or more races.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Program near Pike Road AL
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Pike Road home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Pike Road AL.
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