How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Daphne Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Daphne AL and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Daphne residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, 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 Daphne AL attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as 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 are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized 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 functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Daphne AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Daphne AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Daphne AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Daphne AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Daphne AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Daphne AL area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Daphne AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Daphne AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined 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 Daphne AL?
If you live near Daphne 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.
Daphne (/ˈdæfniː/) is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, on the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay. The city is located along I-10, 11 miles east of Mobile and 170 miles southwest of the state capital of Montgomery. The 2010 United States Census lists the population of the city as 21,570, making Daphne the most populous city in Baldwin County. It is a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley metropolitan area, which includes all of Baldwin County.
The inhabited history of what is now called Daphne dates at least to the Paleo-Indian period and Native American tribes around 9000 BC. Modern-day Daphne is a thriving suburb of nearby Mobile. Daphne has adopted the nickname ″The Jubilee City″ in recognition of its status as one of the locations of the Mobile Bay jubilee. The only other place jubilees occur is in Tokyo Bay.
Daphne and the surrounding regions have been populated since from at least 9,000 BCE. European settlers eventually displaced the Native Americans. After a variety of wars and treaties the area became part of the United States in 1814. Except for a period under the flag of the Confederate States of America, Daphne and its environs have remained part of the United States until this time. From Native American, to the Spanish, French and British, the city has seen a lengthy parade of historic influences which gives Daphne its present character.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Program near Daphne AL
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Daphne residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Daphne AL.
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