How to Pick a Paralegal School near Chatsworth Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Chatsworth GA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Chatsworth homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Chatsworth GA with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- 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 responsibilities, the job of a Chatsworth GA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos 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 handle a much larger volume 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 perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Chatsworth GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Chatsworth GA.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be a good option for individuals in Chatsworth GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Chatsworth GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to think about as well, 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 schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Chatsworth GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Chatsworth GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested 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 Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Chatsworth GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community 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 wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Chatsworth GA local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Chatsworth GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Chatsworth GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Chatsworth GA?
Chatsworth is a city in Murray County, Georgia, United States. It is part of the Dalton, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,531 at the 2000 census and 4,299 in 2010. The city is the county seat of Murray County.
According to a popular legend, the town received its name after a road sign with the word "Chatsworth" fell off a passing freight train nearby. Someone put the sign on a post, and the name stuck.
Chatsworth was founded in 1905 as a depot on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. It was incorporated as a town in 1906 and as a city in 1923. In 1915, the seat of Murray County was transferred to Chatsworth from Spring Place.
Chatsworth is located at 34°46′20″N 84°46′44″W / 34.77222°N 84.77889°W / 34.77222; -84.77889 (34.772336, -84.778977). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2), of which 4.7 square miles (12 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.42%) is water.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal School near Chatsworth GA
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered 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 Chatsworth home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Chatsworth GA.
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