How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Cleveland Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Cleveland GA and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Cleveland residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take 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 essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Cleveland GA with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Cleveland GA paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really 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 discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 start your career in Cleveland GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Cleveland GA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for students in Cleveland GA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Cleveland GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to think about also, for instance 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 properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Cleveland GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Cleveland GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Cleveland GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help 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 assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those colleges that are within your Cleveland GA local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Cleveland GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Cleveland GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Cleveland GA?
Cleveland is a city in White County, Georgia, United States, located ninety miles northeast of Atlanta. Its population was 3,410 at the 2010 census (up from 1,907 in 2000). It is the county seat of White County.
Cleveland was founded in 1857 as the seat of newly formed White County. It was incorporated as a town in 1870 and as a city in 1949. It was named for General Benjamin Cleveland, a War of 1812 figure and grandson of Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a Revolutionary War figure.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,907 people, 729 households, and 468 families residing in the city. The population density was 602.7 people per square mile (233.0/km²). There were 808 housing units at an average density of 255.4 per square mile (98.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.58% White, 10.70% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.99% of the population.
There were 729 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.8% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.84.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Cleveland GA
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Cleveland residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection 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 programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Cleveland GA.
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