How to Choose a Paralegal College near Ragland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ragland AL and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Ragland homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly 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 for the most part both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Ragland AL with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Ragland AL paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically 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 launch your career in Ragland AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Ragland AL.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more available and can be an excellent option for those in Ragland AL searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Ragland AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Ragland AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Ragland AL paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished 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 have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Ragland AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build 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 attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within your Ragland AL local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Ragland AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Ragland AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Ragland AL?
Reggie Keith Ragland Jr. (born September 23, 1993) is an American football linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at the University of Alabama and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
A native of Madison, Alabama, Ragland attended Bob Jones High School, where he was a varsity player in both football and basketball. As a sophomore, he played small forward on a basketball team that upset No. 1 Homewood to win the 2009–2010 AHSAA Class 6A Championship, with Levi Randolph being named MVP. Meanwhile, on the football field Ragland had 40 receptions as a tight end and six touchdowns. Mostly playing defense as a junior, he recorded 91 tackles in 2010 with 21 tackles-for-loss. Bob Jones went 8–4 over the season, losing 21–28 to Clay-Chalkville in the first round of the 6A playoffs. In his senior season, Ragland was credited with 97 tackles with 22 tackles-for-loss and six sacks. The Patriots allowed only 13 points per game and were 10–2 on the season, losing to the eventual 6A state runner-up Hoover in the second round of the playoffs. Ragland was also on the Patriots track & field team, where he competed in the discus throw and the shot put.
Regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Ragland was listed as the No. 1 inside linebacker prospect in his class. Shortly after his junior season, he committed to Alabama over Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee.
As a true freshman on Alabama's 2012 championship team, Ragland played in 10 games, primarily on special teams, and was credited with eight tackles, include five solo stops, and a forced fumble. In his sophomore season, he appeared in 13 games, and compiled 17 tackles on the season as a back-up to C. J. Mosley. Both he and Reuben Foster were the leading candidates to replace Mosley at the “Will” linebacker spot in Alabama's 3–4 defense. Ragland eventually won out over Foster, starting all but one game for the Crimson Tide in 2014. He recorded 95 tackles on the season, which ranked second on the team behind only Landon Collins. Ragland also had 10.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a team-high three fumble recoveries. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after a career-high 13 tackles against Louisiana State.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Ragland AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Ragland home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Ragland AL.
Other Cool Cities in Alabama