How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Ragland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ragland AL and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Ragland residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. 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 essentially both hold the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Ragland AL attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases 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. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Ragland AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Ragland AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Ragland AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Ragland AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Ragland AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Ragland AL area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned 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 aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Ragland AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Ragland AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Ragland AL?
If you live near Ragland 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.
Ragland is a town in St. Clair County, Alabama, United States southeast of Ashville. It incorporated in 1899. At the 2010 census the population was 1,639, down from 1,918 in 2000. It is part of the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Combined Statistical Area.
An F4 tornado struck from the southwest on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1994 at 10:55 a.m. At 11:27 a.m., the National Weather Service of Birmingham issued a tornado warning for northern Calhoun, southeastern Etowah, and southern Cherokee counties. Twelve minutes later, the tornado destroyed Piedmont's Goshen United Methodist Church.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,918 people, 729 households, and 567 families residing in the town. The population density was 114.5 people per square mile (44.2/km²). There were 840 housing units at an average density of 50.1 per square mile (19.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 82.17% White, 17.00% Black or African American, 0.05% Native American, 0.05% Asian, 0.10% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races.
Find the Right Legal Assistant Training near Ragland AL
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward 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 Ragland home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Ragland AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 2