How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Fairburn Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Fairburn GA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Fairburn residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options 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 fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Fairburn GA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Fairburn GA paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients 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. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Fairburn GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, 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 boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some 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 program (we will address the benefits 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 Fairburn GA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Fairburn GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Fairburn GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Fairburn GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Fairburn GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Fairburn GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Fairburn GA local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Fairburn GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Fairburn GA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Fairburn GA?
Fairburn is located along a railroad line and was the county seat of Campbell County starting in 1871. It was chosen as county seat in a referendum in 1871 that was spurred by the original seat of Campbellton refusing to allow the Atlanta & West Point Railroad line through on account of the anticipated noise in the 1850s. The railroad instead passed through Fairburn. Campbellton then faded away as Fairburn grew. The government of Campbell County went bankrupt in 1931 during the Great Depression and, along with Milton County to the north, was absorbed into Fulton County when 1932 began.
Fairburn is located at 33°33′45″N 84°34′53″W / 33.56250°N 84.58139°W / 33.56250; -84.58139 (33.562411, -84.581443). Fairburn is located along Interstate 85, which leads northeast 20 miles (32 km) to downtown Atlanta and southwest 142 miles (229 km) to Montgomery, Alabama. Georgia State Route 74 also runs through the city, leading south 13 miles (21 km) to Peachtree City.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,464 people, 1,879 households, and 1,416 families residing in the city. The population density was 750.9 people per square mile (289.8/km²). There were 2,005 housing units at an average density of 275.5 per square mile (106.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 47.64% African American, 43.08% White, 0.29% Native American, 0.71% Asian, 6.46% from other races, and 1.81% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.01% of the population.
There were 1,879 households out of which 37.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.0% were married couples living together, 18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.6% were non-families. 19.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.26.
Select the Ideal Paralegal School near Fairburn GA
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Fairburn home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Fairburn GA.
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