How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Rainsville Alabama
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Rainsville AL and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably 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 on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Rainsville residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, 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 fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just 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 Rainsville AL with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually 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 code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Rainsville AL paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Rainsville AL as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Rainsville AL.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for students in Rainsville AL searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing Rainsville AL area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and 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 program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Rainsville AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Rainsville AL paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Rainsville AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, 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 assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Rainsville AL local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Rainsville AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Rainsville AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Rainsville AL?
Rainsville is a city in DeKalb County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 4,948, up from 4,499 in 2000. Rainsville is located on top of Sand Mountain, a southern extension of the Cumberland Plateau.
An EF5 tornado struck the city on April 27, 2011, leaving 25 fatalities. It initially touched down 10 miles (16 km) to the southwest in Lakeview, causing structural damage to small buildings and snapping trees. It grew in intensity, and the path width increased from around fifty yards to a half a mile, as the rotation entered the Rainsville and Sylvania communities. Damage included houses that were completely removed from foundations and debris scattered for about one mile, trees debarked, and a few mobile homes were destroyed with debris strewn for about a mile downstream. In Sylvania, some of these houses removed from foundations contained anchor bolts and foundation straps.
Rainsville is located northwest of the center of DeKalb County at 34°29′32″N 85°50′43″W / 34.49222°N 85.84528°W / 34.49222; -85.84528 (34.492258, -85.845316). It is bordered to the northeast by Sylvania, to the northwest by Powell, to the southwest by Shiloh, and to the southeast by Pine Ridge.
Alabama State Routes 35 and 75 intersect in the center of town. AL 35 leads northwest 19 miles (31 km) to Scottsboro and southeast 9 miles (14 km) to Fort Payne, the DeKalb County seat. AL 75 leads northeast 10 miles (16 km) to Henagar and southwest 26 miles (42 km) to Albertville.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Rainsville AL
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward 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 Rainsville home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Rainsville AL.
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