How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Daleville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Daleville AL and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need 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 educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Daleville residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at 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 fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Daleville AL with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Daleville AL paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals 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 because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 start your career in Daleville AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Daleville AL.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for individuals in Daleville AL looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Daleville AL area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential 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 critical factors to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Daleville AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Daleville AL paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good 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 practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Daleville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within your Daleville AL local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Daleville AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Daleville AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Daleville AL?
Daleville is a city in Dale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 5,295, up from 4,653 in 2000. It is part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area. The city's nickname is "Gateway to Fort Rucker", as this U.S. Army post is located just north of town. Cairns Army Airfield is located to the south of Daleville on the road to nearby Clayhatchee.
Daleville, originally known as "Dale's Court House", was founded in 1827 by veterans of the Creek Indian War who had settled in Dale County following that conflict. It was established as the original county seat of Dale County in 1827 but lost that honor when Coffee County split from Dale in 1841, at which time the seat was moved first to Newton, and then later to Ozark in 1870, where it remains today.
Residents of the town formed portions of two regiments of the Confederate States Army during the U.S. Civil War: the 15th Alabama Infantry, famed for charging the 20th Maine on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 33rd Alabama Infantry. In the latter regiment, Company "G", called the "Daleville Blues", was recruited entirely from Daleville. Several men from this company were killed in a freak train derailment on 4 November 1862 near Cleveland, Tennessee; the remainder would fight with the rest of the 33rd in the Confederate Army of Tennessee until the final surrender in 1865.
Long a tiny farming community, Daleville saw significant expansion during the mid-to-late twentieth century with the establishment and enlargement of Fort Rucker, the U.S. Army's primary aviation training post. Douglas Brown, a former mayor of Ozark, teamed up with two Georgia businessmen, L.C. Hall and Bob Culpepper, to develop the city. Securing a 1.5 million dollar loan, the trio purchased 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land in Daleville, constructed a lagoon sewer system and began to build the town house by house, shopping center by shopping center. Numerous military personnel then made their homes in the community, and many elected to stay after their retirement or otherwise completing their service obligation. This large military presence gives the town a more cosmopolitan populace than other area towns farther away from the base.
Select the Right Paralegal School near Daleville AL
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying 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 Daleville home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Daleville AL.
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