How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Dahlonega Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Dahlonega GA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Dahlonega residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, 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 Dahlonega GA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work 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 responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Dahlonega GA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, 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 confined to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Dahlonega GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Dahlonega GA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good option for students in Dahlonega GA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain 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 dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Dahlonega GA area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Dahlonega GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Dahlonega GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, 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 call a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Dahlonega GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools 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 sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within your Dahlonega GA local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Dahlonega GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Dahlonega GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Dahlonega GA?
In 1828 Dahlonega was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States. The Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site stands in the middle of the town square, housed in the 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse. From its steps in 1849, Dahlonega Mint assayor Dr. M. F. Stephenson tried to persuade miners to stay in Dahlonega instead of joining the California Gold Rush, saying, "There's millions in it," famously misquoted as "There's gold in them thar hills."
Dahlonega was home to many Creek and Cherokee. There are a few Creek and Cherokee descendants in Dahlonega today, not in distinct communities but scattered throughout the area. Most of the descendants are Cherokee of mixed race. Names such as Corn, Davis, Chambers, Dover, Chattin, and Bird are associated with these lines of Cherokee blood. Surnames like Thrasher are of Creek blood. Though not afforded state or federal recognition, these families still hold onto who they are as Cherokee and Creek people. The Cherokee called the area ᏓᎶᏂᎨ or Da-lo-ni-ge, which means yellow (from the Dikaneisdi (Word List) of the Cherokee Language); George Featherstonhough, an English geologist who visited the town in 1837, observed that the courthouse, designed by Ephriam Clayton, was built upon a broad expanse of hornblende slate "and that the soil of the public square was impregnated with small specks of gold." The courthouse building was paid for in part with gold bullion, using bricks likely made in Lumpkin County (although possibly transported from Augusta), with both its foundation stone and timber obtained locally.
Numerous gold mines were illegally developed in the area. Miners, entering illegally into the Cherokee Nation lands, came into conflict with the Cherokee, whose territory they had trespassed. The Cherokee lands were defined by the treaty between the Federal Government and the Cherokee Nation in the Treaty of Washington 1819. The miners raised political pressure against the Cherokee because they wanted to get the gold. The Federal Government forced the Native Americans west of the Mississippi River to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears during Indian Removal. Dahlonega was founded two years before the Treaty of New Echota 1835, which made its founding a violation of the Treaty of Washington of 1819.
In 1833 the city was named Talonega by the Georgia General Assembly on December 21, 1833. The name was changed from Talonega by the Georgia General Assembly on December 25, 1837 to Dahlonega, from the Cherokee-language word Dalonige, meaning "yellow" or "gold". The city is just east of Auraria; each claims to be the site of the first discovery of gold. Senator John Calhoun of South Carolina (7th Vice President of the United States) owned the Calhoun Mine, just south of the city square.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Program near Dahlonega GA
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Dahlonega home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, 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 pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Dahlonega GA.
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