How to Select a Paralegal College near Springville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Springville AL and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Springville residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Springville AL with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Springville AL paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Springville AL as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alabama to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Springville AL.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for students in Springville AL searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Springville AL area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several 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 selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Springville AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Springville AL paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Springville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs 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 great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within your Springville AL local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Springville AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Springville AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Springville AL?
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,521 people, 990 households, and 767 families residing in the town. The population density was 393.8 people per square mile (152.1/km²). There were 1,049 housing units at an average density of 163.8 per square mile (63.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.56% White, 7.74% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, and 1.11% from two or more races. 0.24% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 990 households out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.8% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.5% were non-families. 20.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $43,397, and the median income for a family was $53,859. Males had a median income of $35,977 versus $25,542 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,518. About 8.0% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.1% of those under age 45–55 and 23.4% of those age 65 or over.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Springville AL
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Springville home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Springville AL.
Other Cool Cities in Alabama
Business Results 1 - 10 of 8