Best Paralegal Schools in Alabama »

Best Paralegal Schools in Alabama

Interested in working in the legal profession but not ready to commit to long, expensive years of law school? Becoming a paralegal in Alabama may be just the alternative you're looking for. It's an exciting, well-paid career and while you may still have to go to school paralegal schools in Alabama offer a fast track to work and paralegal programs in Alabama can be completed online or offline.

Ready to learn more? Let's take a closer look.

Paralegals in Alabama at a glance

Traditionally paralegals have been assigned a wide range of tasks but if you think that a paralegal in Alabama is stuck making coffee runs or copying reams of documents, think again. As law firms seek to keep the costs of providing quality legal representation to their clients down they are increasingly looking for talented and qualified paralegals to take on more of their caseload tasks than ever before.

This means that the job growth outlook for the paralegal profession in Alabama is a good one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were over 3,000 paralegals working in Alabama in 2018 and the annual mean wage for the profession was a very respectable $45,530 per annum. The Bureau also predicts that the profession will continue to grow, estimating that between 2016 and 2026 the number of paralegal jobs available in Alabama will increase by 13%.

Formal certifications are not mandated in Alabama in order for an individual to work as a paralegal but the vast majority of employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed formal paralegal schooling.

There are several paths to becoming a paralegal in terms of education. These include:

  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies - usually completed in four years
  • Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies - usually completed in two years
  • Certificate in Paralegal Studies - usually completed in one year or less.

In terms of financial aid students who qualify can usually obtain federal student aid to complete Bachelor or Associate Degree programs in Paralegal Studies. 

Certificate Program participants are not eligible for these programs but private student loans can be obtained at reasonable rates and with minimal credit requirements from reputable lenders like Sallie Mae.

What paralegal program should I do?

Which paralegal program you choose depends upon your immediate career plans and your taste for schooling. The longest educational path to becoming a paralegal is the four-year Bachelor's Degree but this is the qualification preferred by some of the most respected law firms in larger cities like Birmingham. An Associates Degree is less of a time commitment, yet still provides a rounded education for those hoping to enter the paralegal profession and work specifically in corporate law.

A paralegal certificate program in Alabama offers what can be termed a fast track to actually working in the 'real world' as a paralegal professional.

These programs provide students with the basic legal knowledge employers look for and obtaining such a certificate demonstrates to potential employers the level of commitment they look for in a good entry level paralegal as well as the potential to learn and grow. For those looking to start working in the profession as quickly - and affordably - as possible Alabama Paralegal Certificate programs may be the right way to begin their legal career.

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Quickest route to becoming a Paralegal?

Many of those who go on to work successfully as a paralegal professional in Alabama begin their career by completing a Paralegal Studies Certificate

These programs are often completed by students who already hold an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree in another subject who are looking to make a career change into the legal profession but for most programs that is not a prerequisite.

The purpose of a paralegal certificate program is to give students a broad, but thorough, introduction to the American legal system itself, to the roles a paralegal may be called on to undertake, the special skills needed to complete them and the ethics and standards that paralegals are expected to hold themselves to at all times.

Why you should check college/university ratings?

No matter which paralegal program in Alabama you ultimately choose to pursue they all represent a significant financial investment. And just as very few people even spend money on Amazon these days without checking the customer reviews for the product they are considering purchasing you should not enroll in any paralegal program without carefully checking out its reviews either.

All schools these days have a website, and that's a great place to begin to get basic information about the school and its paralegal program offerings. However, third party site reviews can be very useful too, as they are not promotional, in the way a school's website is, but objective instead. These reviews can give you an insight into what each program is really like to complete, what the school and other students are like and help you better determine if it might be a good fit for you.

When checking reviews however stick to reputable websites with verified reviews. You can also consider looking for groups on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or Reddit as school reviews are often posted there too, especially on a school's own social media pages. This can be a great way to connect with students directly.

Paralegal Schools in Alabama ABA Accredited

There are a number of schools in the State of Alabama that offer paralegal education programs. Of those schools seven currently offer paralegal programs at various educational levels that are approved by the American Bar Association. To be approved by this prestigious association programs have to meet rigid standards, so the fact that these have should be kept in mind.

Kick start your paralegal career with one of these colleges offering American Bar Association approved paralegal studies programs in Alabama.

Auburn University

Paralegal Programs offered: Certificate, BS, MS

Enterprise State Community College

Paralegal Programs offered: AAS, Certificate

Community College of the Air Force

Paralegal Programs offered: AAS

Gadsden State Community College

Paralegal Programs offered: AAS

Samford University

Paralegal Programs offered: BA 

Faulkner University

Paralegal Programs offered: BS, AAS

South University

Paralegal Programs offered: BS

In addition to these schools, the following institutions also offer well respected paralegal programs at various levels.

Coastal Alabama Community College

Paralegal Programs offered: AAS

Wallace State Community College-Hanceville

Paralegal Programs offered: AAS

Herzing University-Birmingham

Paralegal Programs offered: Certificate, AAS, BS, MS 

Shelton State Community College

Paralegal Programs offered: Certificate, AAS

South University-Montgomery

Paralegal Programs offered: AAS, BS, MS

Jefferson State

Paralegal Programs offered: Certificate, AAS

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Under the spotlight

While all the schools offering paralegal certificate programs in Alabama offer something different, and are well worth your consideration, the following programs may deserve an even closer look.

Auburn University

Programs offered: Paralegal Certificate Course
Accreditation: ABA accreditation
Format: Various including online, campus, weekends, DVD (at home).

This nationally acclaimed, and ABA approved paralegal certificate course offers students of all ages and educational backgrounds - the only prerequisite to enter is that a student hold a high school diploma or GED - a comprehensive foundation of knowledge of the role of a paralegal and their work. As it can be completed in just three months, and all classes are offered on weekends, it also offers busy professionals a faster route to work.

The classes are held on campus and are taught by professors from Auburn University's Center for Legal Studies. Topics covered include all the following and more.

  • Legal terminology
  • Legal documents and document preparation
  • Legal research
  • Legal writing and brief preparation
  • Legal ethics
  • Court procedures
  • Legal technology use

The program tuition cost for 2020 is $1595.00. This does not include the cost of books or additional materials which may add $200-$300 to the final total.

Federal financial aid is not available for the course, but students may take out a private student loan to cover its cost.

Enterprise State Community College

Programs offered: Certificate in Legal Assistant/Paralegal
Accreditation: ABA accreditation
Format: Hybrid

Enterprise are another of the very limited number of Alabama schools that offer an ABA approved paralegal certificate program that can be completed in under a year. The program has become known for the comprehensive look at all aspects of the law that it offers to its participants and the solid foundation it offers to those hoping to enter the paralegal field.

Some of the topics covered by the course include:

  • Legal and Social Environment of Business
  • Introduction of Paralegal Study
  • Basic Legal Research and Writing
  • Legal writing and brief preparation
  • Tort Law
  • Wills, Estates, and Trusts
  • Internship in Paralegalism

The program can be completed in 9-12 months with portions of classroom study able to be completed online at the student's leisure. Mandated campus based classes are offered at flexible times to accommodate those who work.

To enter the program students must be over the age of 18 and hold a high school diploma or GED.

Federal financial aid is not available to cover the cost of this program but private students loans can be obtained to do so.

To complete the certificate students must have at least ten credit hours of classroom education completed along with online modules. The cost of completing these varies according to a student's personal circumstances, so those interested are advised to contact the school to discuss their unique financial situation in person.

The credits earned for the Enterprise State Paralegal Certificate are not designed to be transferable to other programs but those who want to continue to a higher level of paralegal education in the future may find that the knowledge and experience gained on this course is looked on very favorably by college admissions departments.

Gadsen State Community College

Programs offered: ​AAS in Paralegal Studies
Accreditation: ABA accreditation
Format: Hybrid

To work in some of Alabama's top law firms, especially corporate law firms, the minimum of an AAS degree is often required. The Gadsden State Online AAS in Paralegal Studies offers students a way to complete an AAS primarily online, an excellent choice perhaps for those who have already earned a Paralegal Certificate and want to continue their education while working.

The Gadsen program is ABA approved and just 10 credit hours are to be completed in a traditional setting, the rest (61 credit hours) can be completed online as approved by an instructor. As this is a traditional degree program federal financial aid may be available to those who qualify.

The topics covered by this AAS degree program take students much deeper into the legal world and prepare them for courtroom assistant assignments, explore the history of law in America on a deeper level and overall provide a student with a solid foundation to work in law in more diverse fields, including family and domestic law, both of which are very complex, if satisfying vocations a paralegal can choose.

Some of the topics covered by the course include:

  • English Composition I & II
  • Mathematical applications
  • Principal of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Accounting
  • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Real Property Law
  • Internship in Paralegalism

Paralegal Scholarships in Alabama

Whether you take federal student loans, private student loans or follow a payment program any help you can get in the form of a financial scholarship to help meet the costs of becoming a paralegal will obviously be welcome.

Finding scholarships to help meet the costs of a paralegal education in Alabama may not be easy but is worth the effort. While they do not offer scholarships directly The Association for Legal Professionals (NALS) does have partnerships with third parties that offer scholarships to some students dependent on various criteria. You may also find that your chosen school can help you find scholarship opportunities offered by alumni or local businesses.

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