How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Rainbow City Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Rainbow City AL and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Rainbow City homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, 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 help lawyers in Rainbow City AL with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial 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 lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Rainbow City AL paralegal can be complicated 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 action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage 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. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Rainbow City AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Rainbow City AL.
Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for individuals in Rainbow City AL searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Rainbow City AL area schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Rainbow City AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Rainbow City AL paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Rainbow City AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement 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 students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Rainbow City AL local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Rainbow City AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Rainbow City AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Rainbow City AL?
Rainbow City, Alabama
This city was named after U.S. Highway 411, called Rainbow Drive, which runs through the middle of the city. Some of the older citizens say it was named after the US 42nd Infantry Division, known as the "Rainbow Division".
As early as 1818, families from the Carolinas and Georgia began to migrate to the area and homestead land near the Coosa River. Hernando de Soto's troops were the first visitors to the area in 1540, and today a bridge stands where the Pensacola Trading Path crossed the Coosa River. A paved highway now traces the trail that was cut from Nashville to Horseshoe Bend by Andrew Jackson on his way to fight the Creek Native Americans in what is now known as the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
Originally called "Coosa Bend", the area was later called "Morgan's Cross Road". It was located at the intersection of the Gadsden-Ashville Road and Gilbert's Ferry Road. The land was passed from Edmond Jones to his son Clayton, who never married. When he died, the land passed to his sister, Luvica Morgan, who was also the wife of William Morgan.
Knowing the importance of education, John Sheffield Jones, the grandson of Edmond Jones, an original settler, donated $1,000 and the land for the construction of the first John S. Jones Elementary School. Later, John S. Jones burned to the ground and a new elementary school was built and serves the Rainbow City area today. Rainbow Middle School and the Westbrook Christian School, also serve the Rainbow City students today.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Rainbow City AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Rainbow City home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Rainbow City AL.
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