How to Find a Paralegal College near Clarkesville Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Clarkesville GA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Clarkesville residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 lawyers in Clarkesville GA with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Clarkesville GA paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Clarkesville GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Clarkesville GA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for individuals in Clarkesville GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Clarkesville GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Clarkesville GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Clarkesville GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Clarkesville GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult 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 an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire 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 may wish to first consider those colleges that are within your Clarkesville GA local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Clarkesville GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Clarkesville GA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Clarkesville GA?
Clarkesville is located in central Habersham County at 34°36′38″N 83°31′30″W / 34.61056°N 83.52500°W / 34.61056; -83.52500 (34.610521, -83.525056), on the south side of the Soquee River, a southwest-flowing tributary of the Chattahoochee River. It is 4 miles (6 km) north of Demorest, 15 miles (24 km) east of Cleveland, 13 miles (21 km) west of Toccoa, and 13 miles southwest of Tallulah Falls.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.49 square miles (6.45 km2), of which 2.46 square miles (6.37 km2) are land and 0.03 square miles (0.08 km2), or 1.20%, are water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,248 people, 580 households, and 335 families residing in the city. The population density was 670.6 people per square mile (259.1/km²). There were 639 housing units at an average density of 343.3 per square mile (132.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.06% White, 7.77% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.32% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.36% of the population.
There were 580 households out of which 20.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.1% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.2% were non-families. 39.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 23.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.72.
Choose the Right Paralegal Program near Clarkesville GA
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee 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 participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Clarkesville residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Clarkesville GA.
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