How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Loxley Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Loxley AL and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Loxley homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered 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 positions and responsibilities, just 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 help attorneys in Loxley AL with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or delivering 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 standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Loxley AL paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 begin your career in Loxley AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Loxley AL.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for those in Loxley AL searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss 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 school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Loxley AL area schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several 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 Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Loxley AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Loxley AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give 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 Loxley AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools 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 sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose 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 need to first look at those schools that are within your Loxley AL local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. 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 as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Loxley AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Loxley 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 choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Loxley AL?
Loxley is a town in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 1,632. It is part of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area. Loxley is becoming a popular location for the expansion of the suburbs from Daphne and Spanish Fort, Alabama, because it is served by an Interstate 10 exit and is almost directly between the cities of Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida.
In 1870, a man from Chicago by the name of John Loxley established a lumber camp in the area previously known as Bennet. The lumber camp included a commissary and saw mill. The men that traveled with Loxley settled in what later became the town of Loxley. John Loxley returned to Chicago when the lumber was exhausted.
The train depot opened on May 5, 1906, on the Fort Morgan Line. Before that, there were only wagon roads to Bay Minette. Also in 1906, the Loxley post office was opened by Octavia Sauer. She served as the postmistress and depot agent. By 1920, the businesses in Loxley consisted of an egg store, grocery store, two general merchandise stores, train depot, drug store, telegraph office, land office, repair garage, post office, bank, hotel, butcher shop, orange packing shed, cement block plant, a blacksmith, a feed and lumber store. A grammar school was built in 1925.
Loxley is located in south-central Baldwin County at 30°37'24.600" North, 87°45'17.035" West (30.623500, -87.754732).U.S. Route 90 (Hickory Street) passes through the center of the town, leading eastbound 5 miles (8 km) to Robertsdale, Alabama, and 39 miles (63 km) to Pensacola, Florida, and westbound 11 miles (18 km) to Spanish Fort and 20 miles (32 km) to Mobile. Interstate 10 passes through the northern end of town, with access via Exit 44 (Alabama State Route 59).
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Loxley AL
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Loxley home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Loxley AL.
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