How to Find a Paralegal Program near Covington Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Covington GA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Covington homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available 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 functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Covington GA with a wide variety of job duties, such as 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 could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files 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 abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Covington GA paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Covington GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Covington GA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for those in Covington GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Covington GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to 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 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 driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick 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 distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Covington GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Covington GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Covington GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within your Covington GA local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Covington GA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Covington 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 enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Covington GA?
Covington was founded by European immigrants to the United States. It was incorporated in 1822 as the seat of the newly organized Newton County. Covington was named for United States Army Brigadier General and United States Congressman Leonard Covington, a hero of the War of 1812. The settlement grew with the advent of the railroad in 1845. Covington incorporated as a city in 1854.
The Covington Historic District and the North Covington Historic District within the city are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The maps and materials describing these two districts are available for review through City Hall. The Covington Historic District contains Floyd Street and the downtown square. The North Covington Historic District contains North Emory Street and Odum Street as its hub. Both districts have an ordinance to preserve their character, regulating changes proposed for properties, and special permits may be required.
The Covington Mill Village is also a vital part of local history. The Starrsville Historic District, site of the historic settlement of Starrsville, is in the exurban area around Covington. The Newton County Courthouse, brick store, and Salem campground are separately NRHP-listed.
As of the census of 2000, there were 11,547 people, 4,261 households, and 2,906 families residing in the city. The population density was 839.2 people per square mile (324.0/km²). There were 4,542 housing units at an average density of 330.1 per square mile (127.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 51.55% White, 45.54% black, 0.18% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.94% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.87% of the population.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Program near Covington GA
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Covington home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Covington GA.
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