How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Calhoun Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Calhoun GA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Calhoun homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Calhoun GA with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Calhoun GA paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Calhoun GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Calhoun GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals in Calhoun GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more 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 school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Calhoun GA area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to research also, such as 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 considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Calhoun GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Calhoun GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished 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 firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Calhoun GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish 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 desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Calhoun GA local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Calhoun GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Calhoun GA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Calhoun GA?
Calhoun was a part of the Cherokee Nation (including New Echota, capital of the Cherokee Nation) until December 29, 1835. Cherokee leaders such as The Ridge and William Hicks had developed numerous productive farms in the fertile Oothcaloga Valley. When the Cherokee refused to give up the remainder of their lands under the Indian Removal Act, after years of land cessions to the United States for white settlers in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee, President Andrew Jackson sent US troops to the northern region of Georgia to force most of the tribe to move to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River, most notably present-day Oklahoma. (See more information on Trail of Tears.)
In December 1827, Georgia had already claimed the Cherokee lands that became Gordon County and other counties. A small town called "Dawsonville" was created and founded in the Gordon County, named for the owner of an early general store. Dawsonville was later renamed "Calhoun" to honor U.S. Senator John C. Calhoun, following his death in 1850.
Gordon County's inferior court called an election for the selection of the county seat, offering voters a choice between a site on the Western & Atlantic Railroad (near Adairsville) or a site more centrally located within the county. Voters chose a site along the railroad, so the inferior court designated Calhoun as county seat in 1851. The legislature incorporated Calhoun in an act approved on January 12, 1852.
On January 5, 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union as a prelude to the American Civil War. Calhounians joined the Confederacy. Most warfare took place elsewhere, but on May 16, 1864, Calhoun was near where the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman and Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston postured before the Battle of Adairsville during Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. Oakleigh, the home of Dr. Wall, was used by Sherman as his headquarters at that time.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Program near Calhoun GA
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Calhoun residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter 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 ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Calhoun GA.
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