How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Dacula Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Dacula GA and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Dacula homes. Of those choices, they search for 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 must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Dacula GA with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Dacula GA paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Dacula GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Dacula GA.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students in Dacula GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Dacula GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include 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 driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Dacula GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Dacula GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Dacula GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within your Dacula GA local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Dacula GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Dacula GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Dacula GA?
Dacula (duh-KYOO-luh) is a city in Gwinnett County, Georgia, United States. The population as of the 2010 census was 4,442, and the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population to be 5,330 as of 2015.
The vicinity of Dacula was one of the first areas in present-day metropolitan Atlanta to be settled by whites (around the time of the War of 1812), but the area remained mostly undeveloped until the late 20th century. The Dacula area is home to some of the oldest buildings in greater Atlanta, such as the Elisha Winn House, which originally acted as the courthouse for Gwinnett County. Dacula itself began in the late 1800s near the community of Chinquapin Grove, where Dacula Elementary now stands. The town was originally named "Hoke", after a Seaboard Air Line Railroad executive, but that name was changed due to the Post Office Department's protest.. Dacula's name was formed from letters in Decatur and Atlanta, two cities to the west that were already prospering at the time of Dacula's founding. The city was once home to a train station on a CSX line through northeast Georgia, although the station closed in the mid-1950s.
Dacula is located in eastern Gwinnett County, with U.S. Route 29 Business/Georgia State Route 8 (Winder Highway) the main road through the center of town. Business 29/SR 8 leads west 6 miles (10 km) to Lawrenceville, the county seat, and east 11 miles (18 km) to Winder. U.S. Route 29 (University Parkway) is a four-lane highway that bypasses Dacula to the south, with access from Harbins Road. University Parkway leads east 34 miles (55 km) to Athens and west 12 miles (19 km) to Interstate 85, which leads an additional 25 miles (40 km) southwest to downtown Atlanta.
As of 2010 Dacula had a population of 4,442. the median age was 35.2. There were 1,472 households with 92.0% of housing units occupied. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 76.6% white (70.3% non-Hispanic white), 11.3% black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.4% Asian Indian, 2.8% other Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.4% from some other race (0.1% non-Hispanic from some other race) and 3.1% from two or more races. 13.6% of the population was Hispanic or Latino.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Training near Dacula GA
Enrolling in 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 Dacula residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Dacula GA.
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