How to Select a Paralegal School near Donalsonville Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Donalsonville GA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Donalsonville homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, 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?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Donalsonville GA with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Donalsonville GA paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions 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 take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Donalsonville 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 require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Donalsonville GA.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be a good alternative for students in Donalsonville GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least 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 considering are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Donalsonville GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective 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 issues to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Donalsonville GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Donalsonville GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Donalsonville GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within your Donalsonville GA local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary 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 education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Donalsonville GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Donalsonville GA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Donalsonville GA?
Donalsonville was originally part of Decatur County. It is named after John Ernest Donalson (1846–1920), also known as Jonathan or John E. Donalson, a prominent businessman of the area. Donalson built the first lumber mill in Donalsonville, Donalson Lumber Company. He also built homes and a commissary for the workers of the mill. The lumber company paved the way for the town's growth.
Donalsonville was first chartered as a town in Georgia on December 8, 1897. When Seminole County was formed in January 1920, Donalsonville was named as its county seat. By August 1922, the Town of Donalsonville became known as the City of Donalsonville, with the charter passing on August 19, 1922.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10 km2), of which 4.0 square miles (10 km2) is land and 0.25% is water. The city is located 20 minutes north of Lake Seminole, 62 miles (100 km) south of Albany, 36 miles (58 km) east of Dothan, Alabama and 107 miles (172 km) west of Valdosta.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,650 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 61.4% Black, 34.1% White, 0.0% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.3% from some other race and 1.2% from two or more races. 2.1% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal School near Donalsonville GA
Choosing the best paralegal educational 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 privacy and comfort of your Donalsonville residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Donalsonville GA.
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