How to Pick a Paralegal School near Shannon Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Shannon AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Shannon homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Shannon AL attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really 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 number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Shannon AL is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Shannon AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate 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 prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Shannon AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Shannon AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Shannon AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Shannon AL area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received 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 aid might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Shannon AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Shannon 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 select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee 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 reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Shannon AL?
If you live near Shannon 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 River Shannon (Irish: Abha na Sionainne, an tSionainn, an tSionna) is the longest river in Ireland at 360.5 km (224 miles). It drains the Shannon River Basin which has an area of 16,865 km2 (6,512 sq mi), one fifth of the area of Ireland.
The Shannon divides the west of Ireland (principally the province of Connacht) from the east and south (Leinster and most of Munster). County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception. The river represents a major physical barrier between east and west, with fewer than thirty-five crossing-points between Limerick city in the south and the village of Dowra in the north.
The Shannon has been an important waterway since antiquity, having first been mapped by the Graeco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy. The river flows generally southwards from the Shannon Pot in County Cavan before turning west and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean through the 102.1 km (63.4 mi) long Shannon Estuary. Limerick city stands at the point where the river water meets the sea water of the estuary. The Shannon is tidal east of Limerick as far as the base of the Ardnacrusha dam.
Find the Ideal Legal Assistant Training near Shannon AL
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Shannon home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior 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 career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Shannon AL.
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