Find Paralegal Certificate Schools near Decatur GA 30030

How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Decatur Georgia

Decatur GA paralegal working with attorneyCongratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Decatur GA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. 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 at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Decatur homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly 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?

Decatur GA law libraryParalegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Decatur GA with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks can include:

  • Investigating and fact checking cases
  • Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
  • Preparing correspondence and legal papers
  • Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
  • Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
  • Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records

With all of their duties, the role of a Decatur GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.

Paralegal Education and Certification

law books and Decatur GA judge's gavelAs 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 job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Decatur GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Decatur GA.

Online Paralegal Schools

attending paralegal school online in Decatur GAOnline paralegal programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those in Decatur GA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, 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 might be the right choice for you.

What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs

Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Decatur GA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out 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 also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider also, including 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 final selection.

Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Decatur GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.

What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Decatur GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Decatur GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those colleges that are within your Decatur GA local area.

How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Decatur GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Decatur GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.

Considering Paralegal School in Decatur GA?

Decatur, Georgia

Decatur is a city in, and the county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, United States and is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. With a population of 20,148 in the 2013 census,[3] the municipality is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple zip codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear the Decatur name. The city is served by three MARTA rail stations. The city is located approximately 5 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta and shares its western border with Atlanta.

Decatur was established at the intersection of two Native American trails:  the Sandtown, which led east from the Chattahoochee River at Utoy Creek, and the Shallowford, which follows today's Clairmont Road, and eventually crossed near Roswell. It was named for United States Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur.

During the American Civil War, Decatur became a strategic site in Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. In July 1864, Major-General James McPherson occupied the town to cut off the Confederates' supply line from Augusta. On July 22, during the Battle of Atlanta, Confederate cavalry under Major-General Joseph Wheeler attacked McPherson's supply wagons and the Union troops left to defend the wagons. A historical marker at the old courthouse marks the site of this skirmish.

In the last half of the twentieth century the metropolitan area of Atlanta expanded into unincorporated DeKalb County, eventually surrounding two sides of the town of Decatur. Concurrently many well-to-do and middle class white Americans fled the area to more distant suburbs. The 1960s and 1970s witnessed dramatic drops in property values. However, more recently the city has regained economic vigor, partially thanks to several long-term downtown development plans that have come to fruition, making Decatur a trendy small mixed-use district with easy transit to downtown Atlanta. Over the past twenty years, it has gained a local and national reputation as a progressive city with a high level of citizen involvement that retains a small town feel despite its proximity to Atlanta.[citation needed]

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Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Decatur 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 addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Decatur residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Decatur GA.

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