How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Dawsonville Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Dawsonville GA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Dawsonville homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective 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 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 essentially both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Dawsonville GA with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Dawsonville GA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Dawsonville GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide 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, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Dawsonville GA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Dawsonville GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools 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 caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Dawsonville GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate 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 previously covered, there are other significant issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few 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 School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Dawsonville GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Dawsonville GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Dawsonville GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement 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 highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those schools that are within your Dawsonville GA local region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Dawsonville GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Dawsonville GA, verify 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 offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Dawsonville GA?
Dawsonville was founded in 1857 as seat of the newly formed Dawson County. It was incorporated as a town in 1859 and as a city in 1952. The community and the county are named for state senator William Crosby Dawson.
The community is at the junction of State Routes 9, 53, and 136. SR 9 leads northeast 14 miles (23 km) to Dahlonega and south 17 miles (27 km) to Cumming, while SR 53 leads southeast 6 miles (10 km) to U.S. Route 19 and west 24 miles (39 km) to Jasper. SR 136 also leads to Jasper, on a 29-mile (47 km) route that runs further to the north through the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As of the census of 2000, there were 619 people, 234 households, and 153 families residing in the city. The population density was 320.9 people per square mile (123.8/km²). There were 257 housing units at an average density of 133.2 per square mile (51.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.58% White, 0.16% Native American, 0.97% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.00% of the population.
There were 234 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 29.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.88.
Find the Right Paralegal Program near Dawsonville GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Dawsonville home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Dawsonville GA.
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