How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Camden Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Camden AL and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession 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 achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Camden residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available 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 fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Camden AL with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular 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 help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard 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 everyday activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping 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 Camden AL paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education 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 educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Camden AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may 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 boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Camden AL.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for those in Camden AL looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Camden AL area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Camden AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Camden AL paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Camden AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within your Camden AL local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Camden AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Camden AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Camden AL?
What is now Camden was established on property donated by Thomas Dunn from his plantation holdings in order to have a new town founded on the site in 1833 to serve as the county seat. Dunn's Federal style house, built in 1825, is the oldest documented house in the town. The first county seat was in the community of Canton Bend.
The county seat was moved in 1833 to Barboursville, later renamed Camden. It had been named Barboursville in honor of United States Congressman Philip Barbour of Virginia. Incorporated in 1841, Camden was renamed by local physician John D. Caldwell in honor of his hometown of Camden, South Carolina.
The area depended on cultivation of cotton as a commodity crop, which was worked by numerous African-American slaves. The earliest documented industries in the town were a brickyard, sawmill, and window fabricator. The Camden Phenix was the town's earliest known newspaper. Townspeople founded a girls' school in 1844, the Wilcox Female Seminary and Female Institute, whose red-brick Greek-Revival style building was constructed from 1845–50. In 1976 the former school was adapted to house the Wilcox County Historical Society.
During the American Civil War, many in the community joined the Confederate cause. The county courthouse was ransacked by Union forces in 1865, but advance warning allowed county officials to remove the county records to a safe place (legend claims that they were buried in a coffin) prior to arrival of Union troops. Already devastated by the Civil War, Camden suffered fires during 1869 and 1870 that destroyed about two-thirds of the town. The town began to recover during the 1880s, with the first bank incorporated in 1894.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Camden AL
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed 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 Camden residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Camden AL.
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