How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Evans Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Evans GA and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Evans residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Evans GA with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, 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 might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties 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 practices where they work, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Evans GA paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number 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 possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Evans GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Evans GA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for students in Evans GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover 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 certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Evans GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out 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 commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Evans GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Evans GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine 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 graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Evans GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Evans GA local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Evans GA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Evans GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Evans GA?
Evans is a census-designated place (CDP) in Columbia County, Georgia, United States. It is a suburb of Augusta and is part of the Augusta metropolitan area. The population was 29,011 at the 2010 census, up from 17,727 at the 2000 census.
Evans, possibly named after Confederate General Clement A. Evans, is the de facto county seat of Columbia County, although Appling still holds the de jure designation. The Columbia County Government Center, the Government Complex Addition, and the Columbia County Courthouse Annex are all located in Evans.
Evans is located in eastern Columbia County, bordered to the northeast by the Savannah River, which forms the South Carolina state line. To the southeast is the town of Martinez. Downtown Augusta is 11 miles (18 km) to the southeast.
The original community of Evans is centered on North Belair Road (Georgia State Route 383 (SR 383)) southwest of Washington Road (SR 104). The community extends west from this point to Gibbs Road and Crawford Creek and south as far as Columbia Road (SR 232), but most of the settled area is north of Washington Road and Evans to Locks Road, extending west as far as Little Kiokee Creek and east to Stevens Creek Dam on the Savannah River.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal School near Evans GA
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is an essential 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 comfort and privacy of your Evans home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Evans GA.
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