How to Find a Paralegal College near Folkston Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Folkston GA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Folkston residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have 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 responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Folkston GA with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly 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 mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Folkston GA paralegal can be complicated and quite 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Folkston GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address 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 Folkston GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good option for those in Folkston GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Folkston GA area schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to research as well, including 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 researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Folkston GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Folkston GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Folkston GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those colleges that are within your Folkston GA local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies 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 see what is available in Folkston GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Folkston GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Folkston GA?
Folkston is a city in and the county seat of Charlton County, Georgia, United States. Folkston is in the Jacksonville Metropolitan Area. The population was 4,148 as of the 2010 census, up from 2,178 in 2000, largely due to the extension of the city boundary to include D. Ray James Prison.
Folkston was founded on August 19, 1911. The city was named in honor of William Brandon Folks, M.D., a prominent physician and surgeon in his day. In the years 1925 - 1927, many new and commodious residences were built and several modern brick buildings were erected, including the Citizen Bank Block, the Masonic Temple building, a grammar-school building, and a courthouse. Shortly after its creation, the village of Folkston was incorporated as a town government and functioned as a town until 1911 when the area was incorporated as a city. For a number of years, Folkston was the self-proclaimed "Marriage Capital of the World;" Floridians who could not endure their state's waiting period before tying the knot would cross the state line to wed.
Folkston is located near the southern boundary of Georgia at 30°50′4″N 82°0′17″W / 30.83444°N 82.00472°W / 30.83444; -82.00472 (30.834437, -82.004829). U.S. Routes 1, 23, and 301 pass through the city as Second Street, leading south 42 miles (68 km) to Jacksonville, Florida. Route 1 and 23 lead northwest 35 miles (56 km) to Waycross, while Route 301 leads north 55 miles (89 km) to Jesup. The eastern entrance to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is 11 miles (18 km) southwest of Folkston via GA 23 and GA 121.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,502 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 50.0% Black, 45.4% White, 0.1% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.0% from some other race and 2.3% from two or more races. 1.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Find the Right Paralegal Program near Folkston GA
Choosing the best paralegal degree 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 at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Folkston residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior 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 prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Folkston GA.
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