How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Dixons Mills Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Dixons Mills AL and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need 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 alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Dixons Mills residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every 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 offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Dixons Mills AL lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep 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 complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Dixons Mills AL is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Dixons Mills AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn 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 also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about 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 final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Dixons Mills AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Dixons Mills AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Dixons Mills AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those colleges that are within the Dixons Mills AL region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Dixons Mills AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Dixons Mills AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and can be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Dixons Mills AL?
If you live near Dixons Mills 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.
The Mason–Dixon line, also called the Mason and Dixon line or Mason's and Dixon's line, was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute involving Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in Colonial America. It is still a demarcation line among four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia (originally part of Virginia before 1863). Later it became known as the border between the North and South. Before the Missouri Compromise, the line (west of Delaware) marked the northern limit of slavery in the United States.
Maryland's charter of 1632 granted the Calverts land north of the entire length of the Potomac River up to the 40th parallel. A problem arose when Charles II granted a charter for Pennsylvania in 1681. The grant defined Pennsylvania's southern border as identical to Maryland's northern border, but described it differently, as Charles relied on an inaccurate map. The terms of the grant clearly indicate that Charles II and William Penn believed the 40th parallel would intersect the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle, Delaware, when in fact it falls north of the original boundaries of the City of Philadelphia, the site of which Penn had already selected for his colony's capital city. Negotiations ensued after the problem was discovered in 1681. A compromise proposed by Charles II in 1682, which might have resolved the issue, was undermined by Penn receiving the additional grant of the "Three Lower Counties" along Delaware Bay, which later became the Delaware Colony, a satellite of Pennsylvania. Maryland considered these lands part of its original grant.
The conflict became more of an issue when settlement extended into the interior of the colonies. In 1732 the proprietary governor of Maryland, Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, signed a provisional agreement with William Penn's sons, which drew a line somewhere in between and renounced the Calvert claim to Delaware. But later, Lord Baltimore claimed that the document he had signed did not contain the terms he had agreed to, and refused to put the agreement into effect. Beginning in the mid-1730s, violence erupted between settlers claiming various loyalties to Maryland and Pennsylvania. The border conflict would be known as Cresap's War.
Find the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Dixons Mills AL
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Dixons Mills residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community 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. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Dixons Mills AL.
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