How to Find a Paralegal School near Dalton Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Dalton GA and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Dalton homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly 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 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 attorneys in Dalton GA with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Dalton GA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers 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 essentially 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 quickest means to start your career in Dalton GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal 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. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Dalton GA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good option for those in Dalton GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
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 Dalton GA area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. 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 previously covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Dalton GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Dalton GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including 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. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Dalton GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Dalton GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Dalton GA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Dalton GA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Dalton GA?
Dalton is a city in Whitfield County, Georgia, United States. It is the county seat of Whitfield County and the principal city of the Dalton, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Murray and Whitfield counties.
Dalton is home to many of the nation's floor-covering manufacturers, primarily those producing carpet, rugs and vinyl flooring. Like most towns that predate the Civil War, Dalton and the surrounding area saw skirmishes during the conflict. It is home to the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center, which showcases the Georgia Athletic Coaches' Hall of Fame and hosts a variety of events.
Dalton is located at (34.771088, -84.971553). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.8 square miles (51 km2), of which 19.8 square miles (51 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.10%) is water.
According to the 2010 census Dalton had a population of 33,128 living in 11,337 households. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 42.4% non-Hispanic white, 22.6% Hispanic, 6.4% black, 0.6% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% non-Hispanic reporting some other race, 22.2% Hispanic reporting some other race and 3.2% reporting two or more races. 48.0% of the population was Hispanic or Latino.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Dalton GA
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Dalton home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, 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 influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Dalton GA.
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