How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Cottondale Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Cottondale AL and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Cottondale homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Cottondale AL with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Cottondale AL paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Cottondale AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Cottondale AL.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for those in Cottondale AL looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting 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 caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Cottondale AL area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get 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. Numerous Cottondale AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Cottondale AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Cottondale AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Cottondale AL local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible 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 Cottondale AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Cottondale AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Cottondale AL?
Richard Price Rummonds
Richard Price Rummonds (also known as Richard-Gabriel Price Rummonds), one of the foremost handpress printers of the late twentieth century, is also an author, publisher, typographer, and historian of printing. His two books on nineteenth-century printing, Printing on the Iron Handpress and Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices and the Iron Handpress, comprehensively describe the history, operation and merits of the iron handpress.
Born on April 26, 1931, in Long Beach, California, Rummonds was raised in Sacramento, California. He attended Syracuse University in 1949–1950, in the School of Fine Arts, with the intention of majoring in set and costume design and the University of California at Berkeley intermittently between 1950 and 1954, where he majored in English and Creative Writing. During this period he was on the staff of Occident, the student literary magazine, of which he became the editor for the Spring 1954 issue.
Rummonds began printing in Quito, Ecuador in 1966, using the Plain Wrapper Press imprint. His first book was a selection of his own poems. The following year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he printed a book of his short stories.
At a lecture in New York in November 1968, given by the Veronese printer Giovanni Mardersteig operator of the private press Officina Bodoni, Rummonds met Mardersteig’s son, Martino, who introduced Rummonds to the iron handpress. From 1969 on Rummonds printed all of his books on iron handpresses. The following year Rummonds moved his publishing venture and printing equipment to Verona, Italy, where he remained until 1982. Alessandro Zanella joined Rummonds at the Plain Wrapper Press in 1976, eventually becoming a partner in 1978.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Cottondale AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Cottondale home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Cottondale AL.
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