How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Leesburg Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Leesburg AL and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. 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 being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Leesburg residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Leesburg AL lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Leesburg AL is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
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 offered at junior and community colleges in the Leesburg AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Leesburg AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Leesburg 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 among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Leesburg AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools 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 substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those schools that are within the Leesburg AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Leesburg AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Leesburg AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Leesburg AL?
If you live near Leesburg 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.
Leesburg was originally called Hamptonville; it was named for Joseph Hampton and the Henslee family respectively. A post office was established as Hamptonville in 1836, and in 1839 the name was changed to Leesburg.
Leesburg is located in western Cherokee County at 34°10'57.446" North, 85°46'8.350" West (34.182624, -85.768986). It is bordered by Lookout Mountain and the town of Sand Rock to the north and Weiss Lake on the Coosa River to the south. Weiss Dam, forming the lake, is located just south of the town limits.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,027 people, 409 households, and 298 families residing in the town. The population density was 160 people per square mile (61.8/km²). There were 663 housing units at an average density of 103.6 per square mile (39.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.5% White, 0.0% Native American, 0.0% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 1.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Find the Right Legal Assistant College near Leesburg AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Leesburg residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice 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 schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Leesburg AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 2