How to Find a Paralegal School near Lincoln Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lincoln AL and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Lincoln homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Lincoln AL attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers 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 role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability 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 perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Lincoln AL is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Lincoln AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective 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 important factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Lincoln AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, 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 Lincoln AL law offices 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 may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Lincoln AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Lincoln AL area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Lincoln AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lincoln AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Lincoln AL?
If you live near Lincoln 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 Lincoln Roker Jr. (born August 20, 1954) is an American weather forecaster, journalist, television personality, actor, and author. He is the current weather anchor on NBC's Today. Roker also appears occasionally as a co-anchor on NBC Nightly News. He has an inactive American Meteorological Society Television Seal #238.
On November 12, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Roker attempted to beat the unofficial world record for an uninterrupted live weather report of 33 hours held by Norwegian weather broadcaster Eli Kari Gjengedal. On November 14, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Roker set the Guinness World Record by reporting for 34 hours.
Al Roker was born in Queens, New York, the son of Isabel, of Jamaican descent, and Albert Lincoln Roker Sr., a bus driver of Bahamian descent. Roker initially wanted to be a cartoonist. He was raised Catholic (in the faith of his mother) and graduated from Xavier High School in Manhattan. He worked on several projects as a member of the school's Cartooning & Illustration Club. He attended the State University of New York at Oswego where he received a B.A. in communications in 1976.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Training near Lincoln AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Lincoln residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Lincoln AL.
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