How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Hodges Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hodges AL and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Hodges residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Hodges AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Hodges AL is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although 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 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Hodges AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Hodges AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Hodges AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Hodges AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those schools that are within the Hodges AL area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Hodges AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Hodges AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Hodges AL?
If you live near Hodges AL or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Albert E. Hodge (April 18, 1912 – March 19, 1979) was an American actor best known for playing space adventurer Captain Video on the DuMont Television Network from December 15, 1950, to April 1, 1955. He played the Green Hornet on radio from January 1936 until January 1943.
Hodge was born in Ravenna, Ohio. His parents operated a tailoring and dry-cleaning business. Hodge acted and took part in sports at Ravenna High School. Nicknamed "Abie", he was a track star, a drum major and manager of the band, sang bass in the boys glee club and was a cheerleader.
Hodge graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1934, majoring in drama. After touring as an actor with the Casford Players, he was hired by WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan. Besides originating the role of Britt Reid, the Green Hornet, Hodge wrote and delivered daily editorials, announced at football games, wrote advertising copy, worked as a disc jockey, and produced radio dramas and documentaries, including The Lone Ranger and Challenge of the Yukon. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, and was bedridden for a year with pleurisy.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Hodges AL
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential 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 at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Hodges residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Hodges AL.
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