How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Chapman Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Chapman AL and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate 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 one of 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 potential students start by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Chapman homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Chapman AL attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Chapman AL is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Chapman AL area, as well as trade and vocational 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 certificate and degree programs as well. 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 covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Chapman AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Chapman AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Chapman AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish 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 wish to first look at those schools that are within the Chapman AL region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense 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 expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Chapman AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Chapman AL, verify 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 offers that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more popular and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Chapman AL?
If you live near Chapman 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.
Camp Chapman attack
The Camp Chapman attack was a suicide attack by Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi against the Central Intelligence Agency facility inside Forward Operating Base Chapman on December 30, 2009 . One of the main tasks of the CIA personnel stationed at the base was to provide intelligence supporting drone attacks against Pakistan. Seven American CIA officers and contractors, an officer of Jordan's intelligence service, and an Afghan working for the CIA were killed when al-Balawi detonated a bomb sewn into a vest he was wearing. Six other American CIA officers were wounded. The bombing was the most lethal attack against the CIA in more than 25 years.
Al-Balawi was a Jordanian doctor and jihadist website writer who was detained and interrogated over three days by the Jordanian intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID). The GID and the CIA thought they had turned al-Balawi to penetrate al-Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal areas to provide intelligence for high-level targets. Instead, al-Balawi used this trust to gain access to the CIA base in Afghanistan unsearched and perpetrate the attack. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, saying they helped al-Balawi with the attack.
On December 30, 2009, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was picked up by Arghawan, an Afghan who was the chief of external security at Camp Chapman, at the border between Miranshah, Pakistan, and Khost, Afghanistan.(pp166–7) Arghawan drove al-Balawi to Camp Chapman, arriving around 4:30 pm.
Enroll in the Best Legal Assistant College near Chapman AL
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Chapman home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Chapman AL.
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