How to Find a Paralegal School near Jefferson Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Jefferson AL and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Jefferson residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your selection. 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 the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 Jefferson AL with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour 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 mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Jefferson AL paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. 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 possibly 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 Jefferson AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Jefferson AL.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be a good option for students in Jefferson AL looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Jefferson AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn 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 the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Jefferson AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Jefferson AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Jefferson AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within your Jefferson AL local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Jefferson AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Jefferson AL, make certain 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, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Jefferson AL?
Al Ricardo Jefferson (born January 4, 1985) is an American professional basketball player for the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played high school basketball for Prentiss High School in Mississippi before skipping college to enter the 2004 NBA draft, where he was drafted 15th overall by the Boston Celtics. He has previously played for the Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets.
Born in Monticello, Mississippi, Jefferson attended Prentiss High School in the small nearby town of Prentiss from 2000 to 2004. After starting for his varsity team as a freshman at Prentiss, he became one of the elite players in the country as a junior, drawing the attention of both college coaches around the country, and the scouts of the NBA. In his senior year for the Bulldogs, he averaged an astounding 42.6 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks per game as his Bulldogs team went on to lose in the Mississippi state class 3A semi-finals to Byhalia High School 88-73, in which Jefferson finished with 56 points.
Considered a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, Jefferson was listed as the No. 1 center and the No. 4 player in the nation in 2004. He had originally committed to Arkansas, but opted instead to make the jump to the NBA straight out of high school.
Jefferson was drafted with the 15th overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 2004 NBA draft, becoming the first high school player to be drafted by the Celtics (Kendrick Perkins was drafted by the Grizzlies, then traded to Boston on draft day in the 2003 NBA draft). He played primarily as a power forward and averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game during his rookie season.
Choose the Right Paralegal College near Jefferson AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Jefferson residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Jefferson AL.
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