How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Columbus Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Columbus GA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Columbus residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should 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 alternatives that are offered 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 roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Columbus GA with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Columbus GA paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Columbus GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of 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, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and obtain 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 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Columbus GA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be a good option for students in Columbus GA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater 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 program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Columbus GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can 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 begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating 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 need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Columbus GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Columbus GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among 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 operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Columbus GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good 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 School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Columbus GA local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Columbus GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Columbus GA, make certain classes are available 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, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Columbus GA?
Columbus is a consolidated city-county in the west central U.S. state of Georgia. Located on the Chattahoochee River directly across from Phenix City, Alabama, Columbus is the county seat of Muscogee County, with which it officially merged in 1970. Columbus is the third-largest city in Georgia and the fourth-largest metropolitan area. According to the 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Columbus has a population of 194,058 residents, with 303,811 in the greater Columbus–Phenix City metropolitan area. The metro area joins the nearby Alabama cities of Auburn and Opelika to form the Columbus–Auburn–Opelika Combined Statistical Area, which has a 2017 estimated population of 499,128.
Columbus lies 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Atlanta. Fort Benning, the United States Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence and a major employer, is located south of the city in Chattahoochee County. Columbus is home to museums and tourism sites, including the National Infantry Museum, dedicated to the United States Army's Infantry Branch. It has the longest urban whitewater rafting course in the world constructed on the Chattahoochee River.
This was for centuries and more the traditional territory of the Creek Indians, who became known as one of the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast after European contact. Those who lived closest to white-occupied areas conducted considerable trading and adopted some European-American ways.
Founded in 1828 by an act of the Georgia Legislature, Columbus was situated at the beginning of the navigable portion of the Chattahoochee River and on the last stretch of the Federal Road before entering Alabama. The city was named for Christopher Columbus, its founders likely influenced by the writings of Washington Irving. The plan for the city was drawn up by Dr. Edwin L. DeGraffenried, who placed the town on a bluff overlooking the river. Across the river to the west, where Phenix City, Alabama is now located, Creek Indians still lived until they were forcibly removed in 1836 by the federal government to make way for European-American settlers.
Find the Right Paralegal Training near Columbus GA
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Columbus residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Columbus GA.
Other Cool Cities in Georgia
Business Results 1 - 10 of 4
Bing: Georgia Paralegal Certificate Schools Search results
Paralegal Salary and Outlook by State
As you plan your paralegal career, you should consider the following areas that may contribute to your earning potential.. Education. Paralegal salary can be influenced by their education level. According to O*NET OnLine, 34% of job incumbents and subject matter experts reported that a bachelor’s degree is needed for paralegals; 50% reported that paralegals should have an associate’s ...
Accreditation - Ashworth College
Ashworth College accreditation. You want to be confident your school is legitimate. Celebrating over 300,000 students and alumni, Ashworth College is nationally accredited, so you can be confident in the fact that an education with Ashworth will result in a nationally recognized degree or certificate.
Best Ultrasound Technician Schools in Georgia – 2022
Accreditation: CAAHEP Program Type: Undergraduate Certificate Grady Health System to meet the growing demand for ultrasound technicians in the state of Georgia, started the School of Diagnostic Medical Sonography in 1991. The DMS school equipped with interactive classrooms and laboratories with state-of-the-art imaging equipment offers an 18 ...
How to Become a Paralegal | Paralegal Requirements
Step 3. Earn Paralegal Professional Certification. Although there’s been discussion in the legal community in recent years about some kind of formal registration, certification, or licensing for paralegals, to date no state has implemented any regulatory requirements.A lack of legislation in the profession has led to a number of voluntary credentials, all of which require completing a formal ...
CLS by BARBRI
Paralegal Certificate Course is $1895. The most affordable, flexible and effective legal education courses. Course Finder Quiz. Find a course. The next online session begins June 27, 2022. Enroll Now! Our partner schools. We work with over 150 accredited colleges and universities across the country to issue our certificates. ... to issue our ...
Online Paralegal Degree Center
Online paralegal schools are becoming the norm. Law firms and corporations look favorably on accredited paralegal schools online. Programs vary in scope and degree offerings. Potential paralegal students may choose among certification programs, associate, bachelor, and master degrees, or post-baccalaureate credentials.
ABA Approved Paralegal Programs by State and School
Paralegal Certificate Accelerated Program (post-bac) Paralegal Certificate Part-Time Program (post-associate) 9500 Gilman Drive, #0170P La Jolla, CA 92093-0172 Director: Julia M. Dunlap Telephone: 858.534.8164 Fax: 858.534.8130 paralegal.ucsd.edu. University of California, Santa Barbara Extension. Paralegal Certificate Program (post-associate)
Academic Program Finder - Webster University
Georgia. Fort Gordon; Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield; Illinois. Scott Air Force Base ... Studies Nonprofit Management Nurse Anesthesia Practice Nursing Online Teaching and Learning Organizational Development Paralegal Studies Philosophy Political Science Procurement and Acquisitions Management ... All Certificate Programs. Search . Search ...
Paralegal Certificate Online - Ashworth College
When you earn your Paralegal Studies certificate online, you will be introduced to the most important aspects of the field, including the U.S. legal system, litigation, legal analysis, and more. Enroll in our affordable online paralegal program to study at your own pace, gain practical skills you can apply immediately, and take your first steps ...
How to Become a Paralegal: A Guide to Paralegal Education | Best ...
Debra R. Geiger, president of the American Association for Paralegal Education and head of the paralegal studies department at Savannah Technical College in Georgia, notes increasing demand for ...