How to Choose a Paralegal College near Sycamore Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Sycamore AL and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Sycamore homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, 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 hold comparable 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Sycamore AL with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Sycamore AL paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Sycamore AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 school (we will address the benefits 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 Sycamore AL.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more common and can be a good option for students in Sycamore AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, 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 may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Sycamore AL area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Sycamore AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Sycamore AL paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Sycamore AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those colleges that are within your Sycamore 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. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Sycamore AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Sycamore 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 enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Sycamore AL?
Timber Sycamore was a classified weapons supply and training program run by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported by Arab intelligence services, such as the security service in Saudi Arabia. Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. According to U.S. officials, the program has trained thousands of rebels. President Barack Obama secretly authorized the CIA to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013.
The program's existence was suspected after the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website publicly solicited contract bids to ship tons of weaponry from Eastern Europe to Taşucu, Turkey and Aqaba, Jordan. One unintended consequence of the program has been to flood the Middle East's black market with weapons including assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
In July 2017, U.S. officials stated that Timber Sycamore would be phased out, with funds possibly redirected to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or to offering rebel forces defensive capabilities.
CIA director David Petraeus first proposed a covert program of arming and training rebels in the summer of 2012. Initially President Obama rejected the proposal, but later agreed, partially due to lobbying by foreign leaders, including from King Abdullah II of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Seymour Hersh has said that the CIA had been facilitating the flow of arms from Libya to Syria "for more than a year" before summer 2013 in collaboration with "the UK (United Kingdom), Saudi Arabia and Qatar."
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Sycamore AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed 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 Sycamore residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Sycamore AL.
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