How to Select a Paralegal School near Camilla Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Camilla GA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Camilla homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Camilla GA with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Camilla GA paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Camilla GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Camilla GA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more common and may be a good option for those in Camilla GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing Camilla GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Camilla GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Camilla GA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing 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 several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Camilla GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Camilla GA local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Camilla GA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Camilla GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Camilla GA?
Camilla and Mitchell County were originally Creek country surrendered to the United States in the 1814 Treaty at Fort Jackson. Georgia divided the land ceded by Native Americans into lots to be given away in land lotteries. The lottery of 1820 awarded lands covering much of the southwest section of the state (applying only to land south of the future Lee County line and extending west to Chattahoochee and east to settled counties in east Georgia), including the area later known as Mitchell County. Despite having access to free land, few people moved to the region. Citizens hesitated to improve land, according to an early twentieth-century history the region, “"which God Almighty had left in an unfinished condition." It took approximately forty years (1820–1857) for the area to obtain its necessary legal population to become a separate county, after which Camilla became the county’s seat.
Camilla became the site of a racially motivated political riot on Saturday, September 19, 1868. Determined to promote political and social reform with an organized rally, 150–300 freedmen, along with Republican political candidates, marched toward the town’s courthouse square for the rally. The local sheriff and "citizens committee" in the majority-white town warned the black and white activists of the impending violence and demanded that they forfeit their guns, even though carrying weapons was customary at the time. The marchers refused to give up their guns and continued to the courthouse square, where a group of local whites, quickly deputized by the sheriff, fired upon them. This assault forced the Republicans and freedmen to retreat as locals gave chase into the swamps, killing an estimated nine to fifteen of the black rally participants while wounding forty others. "Whites proceeded through the countryside over the next two weeks, beating and warning Negroes that they would be killed if they tried to vote in the coming election." The Camilla Massacre was the culmination of smaller acts of violence committed by white inhabitants that had plagued southwest Georgia since the end of the Civil War.(pp. 1–2)
On 23 July 1962, a group of civil rights activists tried to visit fellow demonstrators from Albany, Georgia that had been jailed in Camilla. While the rally took place, Marion King, wife of Albany Movement's vice president Slater King, was beaten to the ground and kicked by Camilla police guards until she was unconscious. Mrs. King was pregnant at the time and had her young children with her. She suffered a miscarriage after the ordeal. The 2012 song Camilla from the eponymous album by Caroline Herring pays a tribute to Mrs. King's memory.
In the early 2000s, the city was hit by two disastrous sets of tornadoes, both occurring in the dark hours of the early morning and both going through roughly the same area. The first outbreak was on February 14, 2000; the second was on March 20, 2003.
Select the Best Paralegal Program near Camilla GA
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Camilla home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Camilla GA.
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