How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Fairmount Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Fairmount GA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Fairmount homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Fairmount GA with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to 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 daily tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Fairmount GA paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Fairmount GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Fairmount GA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more common and may be a good option for students in Fairmount GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater 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 program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, 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 degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Fairmount GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available 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 include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective 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 important aspects to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized 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 distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Fairmount GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Fairmount GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Fairmount GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Fairmount GA local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. 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 reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Fairmount GA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Fairmount GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Fairmount GA?
Fairmount is a city in Gordon County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 720. Gordon County is home to New Echota, which was once the Cherokee Nation's capital. It was the origin of the Cherokee written language and newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix.
Fairmount is located in southeastern Gordon County at 34°26′19″N 84°41′58″W / 34.43861°N 84.69944°W / 34.43861; -84.69944 (34.438510, -84.699371), in the valley of Salacoa Creek, a northwest-flowing tributary of the Coosawattee River. U.S. Route 411 runs through the center of town as Salacoa Avenue, leading north 24 miles (39 km) to Chatsworth and south 21 miles (34 km) to Cartersville. Georgia State Route 53 crosses US 411 in Fairmount, leading east 18 miles (29 km) to Jasper and west 17 miles (27 km) to Calhoun, the Gordon County seat.
As of the census of 2000, there were 745 people, 307 households, and 220 families residing in the city. The population density was 619.9 people per square mile (239.7/km²). There were 334 housing units at an average density of 277.9 per square mile (107.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.70% White, 3.22% African American, 0.27% from other races, and 0.81% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.21% of the population.
There were 307 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.3% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.3% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.91.
Find the Ideal Paralegal College near Fairmount GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Fairmount residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Fairmount GA.
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