How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Ellijay Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ellijay GA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right 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 increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Ellijay residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Ellijay GA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting 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 Ellijay GA paralegal can be involved and quite 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 they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Ellijay GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree 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 ensure your success as a paralegal in Ellijay GA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for students in Ellijay GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss 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 sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Ellijay GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as 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 most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Ellijay GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Ellijay GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Ellijay GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs 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 substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Ellijay GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Ellijay GA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Ellijay GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Ellijay GA?
Gilmer County was cut from Cherokee County in 1832, and Ellijay became the county seat in 1834. Ellijay existed as a remote mountain community until the Marietta and Northern Georgia Railroad (later the L & N) arrived in 1884. This prompted something of a boom in the timber industry, but the area remained relatively isolated until the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway (Georgia 515, named for Georgia governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller) was completed in 1991.
Ellijay is located at the center of Gilmer County, at 34°41'41" north, 84°29'1" west (34.694656, -84.483566). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.2 km2), all land. It is situated at the confluence of the Ellijay and Cartecay rivers, forming the Coosawattee River, part of the Oostanaula/Coosa/Alabama River watershed. It is bordered to the east and south by the city of East Ellijay.
U.S. Route 76 bypasses the city center to the south and east. It leads west 24 miles (39 km) to Chatsworth and northeast 16 miles (26 km) to Blue Ridge. Georgia State Route 52 (Chatsworth Highway) also leads 24 miles (39 km) to Chatsworth, taking a more northerly route over Cohutta Mountain. Georgia State Route 515, the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway, leads northeast with US 76 to Blue Ridge and south 20 miles (32 km) to Jasper. Downtown Atlanta is 77 miles (124 km) to the south.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,584 people, 593 households, and 342 families residing in the city. The population density was 591.7 people per square mile (228.2/km2). There were 662 housing units at an average density of 247.3 per square mile (95.4/km2). There were 662 housing units at an average density of 247.3 per square mile (95.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 81.25% White, 1.39% African American, 0.00% Native American, 1.70% Asian, 0.57% Pacific Islander, 12.50% from other races, and 2.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.19% of the population.
Choose the Right Paralegal Training near Ellijay GA
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Ellijay residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Ellijay GA.
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