How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Eufaula Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Eufaula AL and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Eufaula homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Eufaula AL with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions 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 the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing 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 maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Eufaula AL paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially 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 way to start your career in Eufaula AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal 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 regarded certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Eufaula AL.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for those in Eufaula AL searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, 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 quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about 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 conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Eufaula AL area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational 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 as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Eufaula AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Eufaula AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Eufaula AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent 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 sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within your Eufaula AL local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Eufaula AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Eufaula AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Eufaula AL?
The site along the Chattahoochee River that is now modern-day Eufaula was occupied by three Creek tribes, including the Eufaulas.:3 By the 1820s the land was part of the Creek Indian Territory and supposedly off-limits to white settlement.:4 By 1827 enough illegal white settlement had occurred that the Creeks appealed to the federal government for protection of their property rights. In July of that year, federal troops were sent to the Eufaula area to remove the settlers by force of arms, a conflict known as the "Intruders War".:4
The Creeks signed the Treaty of Washington in 1826, ceding most of their land in Georgia and eastern Alabama to the United States, but it was not fully effective in practice until the late 1820s. The 1832 Treaty of Cusseta, by which the Creeks ceded all land east of the Mississippi River to the United States, allowed white settlers to legally buy land from the Creek. However, the treaty's terms did not require any natives to relocate. By 1835 the land on which the town was built had been mostly purchased by white settlers, and had a store, owned in part by William Irwin, after whom the new settlement was named "Irwinton".:5
By the mid 1830s downtown Irwinton was platted out and development was well underway.:9–16 Much of its historic character has been preserved and is now known as the Seth Lore and Irwinton Historic District. In 1842:18 or 1843:18 Irwinton was renamed "Eufaula", possibly:18 to end postal confusion ensuing from its proximity to Irwinton, Georgia.:18 The town was officially incorporated under that name in 1857.:10
In 1850 secessionists in the town formed a vigilante committee which terrorized any white people who had abolitionist sympathies. Thus captain Elisha Bett was driven from the town and only returned after he had signed a written agreement not to express his views again.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Training near Eufaula AL
Choosing the ideal 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 option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Eufaula residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Eufaula AL.
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