How to Choose a Paralegal College near Conley Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Conley GA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Conley homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 positions and functions, 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 assist lawyers in Conley 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. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Conley GA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients 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. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Conley GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Conley GA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more available and can be a good option for those in Conley GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example 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 right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Conley GA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most 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 important factors to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Conley GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Conley GA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided 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 practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Conley GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Conley GA local region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Conley GA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Conley GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Conley GA?
Conley is a census-designated place (CDP) in Clayton County, Georgia, United States. The population was 6,228 at the 2010 census. The source of the name of the community is unknown, though a pioneer settlement family of the surname "Conley" lived in DeKalb County (1850 census).
Conley is located along the northern border of Clayton County at 33°38′25″N 84°20′32″W / 33.64028°N 84.34222°W / 33.64028; -84.34222 (33.640142, -84.342255). It is bordered by the city of Forest Park to the south and west, the city of Atlanta to the northwest, and by unincorporated land in DeKalb County to the north. The eastern edge of the CDP is formed by U.S. Route 23 (Moreland Avenue). Fort Gillem is to the south in Forest Park.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,188 people, 1,968 households, and 1,505 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 3,234.2 people per square mile (1,250.9/km²). There were 2,053 housing units at an average density of 1,073.0/sq mi (415.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 34.34% White, 52.86% African American, 0.31% Native American, 4.75% Asian, 0.26% Pacific Islander, 6.06% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.46% of the population.
There were 1,968 households out of which 42.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.2% were married couples living together, 28.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.5% were non-families. 17.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.14 and the average family size was 3.49.
Choose the Right Paralegal School near Conley GA
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Conley home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best 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 furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Conley GA.
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