How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Quinton Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Quinton AL and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Quinton residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Quinton AL with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Quinton AL paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Quinton AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Quinton AL.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students in Quinton AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Quinton AL area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors 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 schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Quinton AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Quinton AL paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear 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 practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Quinton AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create 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 choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within your Quinton AL local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Quinton AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Quinton AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Quinton AL?
Quinton Aaron (born August 15, 1984) is an American actor. He made his film debut in Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind. His first lead role was as Michael Oher in the 2009 film The Blind Side. In 2010, Aaron guest-starred in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2015, Aaron shot the film Busy Day in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Aaron made his film debut as Q in Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind, starring Mos Def and Jack Black. He has also appeared in Fighting with Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard and co-starred in an NYU thesis short film called Mr. Brooklyn with Al Thompson (Liberty Kid, A Walk to Remember), directed by Jason Sokoloff.
His first lead role was playing Michael Oher, alongside Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw in The Blind Side, released November 20, 2009. Directed by John Lee Hancock, the film was adapted from Michael Lewis's 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which features Oher's real-life story. Oher had started in ten games as a guard during his first season with the Ole Miss Rebels, becoming a first-team freshman All-American, and later an American football offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. Aaron auditioned for the role after his mother found out about the casting call online. Chosen as a finalist, he was flown in to Los Angeles for the final audition. Unsure whether he had been successful, he reached into his pocket on his way to the door and pulled out a card, telling director John Lee Hancock that he knew that it was a long shot for him to get the part, but that he did security work and would love to provide those services should they be needed for the film. Director Hancock said that he would keep it in mind.
On March 24, 2010, Aaron guest-starred with Jill Scott in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. On April 28, 2010, Quinton guest-starred in the "We All Saw This Coming" episode of Mercy. On April 4, 2011 Quinton guest-starred in the season finale of Harry's Law with his The Blind Side co-star Kathy Bates.
Choose the Right Paralegal College near Quinton AL
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Quinton home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Quinton AL.
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