How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Wadley Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wadley AL and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Wadley residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Wadley AL lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Wadley AL is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations in the field 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 advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Wadley AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most 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 aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several 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 School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wadley AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance 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 paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school 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 confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Wadley AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though 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 a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Wadley AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 need to first consider those colleges that are within the Wadley AL area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Wadley AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wadley AL, make certain 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 provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee 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 highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wadley AL?
If you live near Wadley 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.
Wadley is a town in Randolph County, Alabama, United States. It is home to the Wadley campus of Southern Union State Community College. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 751, up from 640 in 2000. According to the 1910 U.S. Census, the town was incorporated in 1908.
As of the census of 2000, there were 640 people, 228 households, and 149 families residing in the town. The population density was 463.7 people per square mile (179.1/km²). There were 276 housing units at an average density of 200.0 per square mile (77.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 65.16% White, 33.28% Black or African American, 1.09% from other races, and 0.47% from two or more races. 2.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 228 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.3% were married couples living together, 24.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 32.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.91.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Wadley AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Wadley residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wadley AL.
Other Alabama Locations That May Be Of Interest