How to Choose a Paralegal College near Eatonton Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Eatonton GA and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate 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 one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Eatonton residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available 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 functions, just 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 assist attorneys in Eatonton GA with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Eatonton GA paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Eatonton GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Eatonton GA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for students in Eatonton GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Eatonton GA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Eatonton GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Eatonton GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices 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 ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Eatonton GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those colleges that are within your Eatonton GA local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Eatonton GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Eatonton GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Eatonton GA?
Eatonton is a city in and county seat of Putnam County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 6,480. It was named after William Eaton, an officer and diplomat involved in the First Barbary War. The name consists of his surname with the English suffix "ton," meaning "town".
The Rock Eagle Effigy Mound, a Native American archaeological site, is located north of the city. It is one of two such sites east of the Mississippi River; both are in Putnam County. The mound and related earthwork constructions were made by Woodland culture peoples, perhaps as long ago as 1,000 to 3,000 years. The site within a 1500-acre park administered by the University of Georgia, which also maintains a 4-H camp nearby. The Mound has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Following the American Revolutionary War, Eatonton was founded in 1807 as the seat of newly formed Putnam County. After the war, settlers were moving west and settling in the upland Piedmont region to develop cotton plantations. Eatonton was incorporated as a town in 1809 and as a city in 1879.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,760 people, 2,553 households, and 1,817 families residing in the city. The population density was 329.1 people per square mile (127.0/km²). There were 2,723 housing units at an average density of 129.8 per square mile (50.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 35.50% White and 64.50% African American.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Eatonton GA
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Eatonton home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Eatonton GA.
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