How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Tuskegee Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Tuskegee AL and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Tuskegee homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives 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 functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Tuskegee 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 legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Tuskegee AL paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties 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 are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Tuskegee AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Tuskegee AL.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those in Tuskegee AL searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Tuskegee AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Tuskegee AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Tuskegee AL paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Tuskegee AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial 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 placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within your Tuskegee AL local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Tuskegee AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Tuskegee AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Tuskegee AL?
Tuskegee (/tʌsˈkiːɡiː/) is a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. It was founded and laid out in 1833 by General Thomas Simpson Woodward, a Creek War veteran under Andrew Jackson, and made the county seat that year. It was incorporated in 1843. It is also the largest city in Macon County. At the 2010 census the population was 9,865, down from 11,846 in 2000.
Tuskegee has been an important site in African-American history and highly influential in United States history since the 19th century. Before the American Civil War, the area was largely used as a cotton plantation, dependent on African-American slave labor. After the war, many freedmen continued to work on plantations in the rural area, which was devoted to agriculture. In 1881 the Tuskegee Normal School (now Tuskegee University, a historically black college) was founded by Lewis Adams, a former slave whose father, Jesse Adams, a slave owner, allowed him to be educated, and its first, founding principal was, Booker T. Washington who developed a national reputation and philanthropic network to support education of freedmen and their children.
In 1923, the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center was established here, initially for the estimated 300,000 African-American veterans of World War I in the South, when public facilities were racially segregated. Twenty-seven buildings were constructed on the 464-acre campus.
The city was the subject of a notable civil rights case, Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960), in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature had violated the Fifteenth Amendment in 1957 by gerrymandering city boundaries as a 28-sided figure that excluded nearly all black voters and residents, and none of the white voters or residents. The city's boundaries were restored in 1961 after the ruling.
Find the Ideal Paralegal School near Tuskegee AL
Enrolling in the best 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 choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Tuskegee home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide 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 ultimate decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Tuskegee AL.
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