How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Franklin Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Franklin GA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Franklin residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Franklin GA with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Franklin GA paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted 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 since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Franklin GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Franklin GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for those in Franklin GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Franklin GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 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 show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Franklin GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Franklin 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 have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Franklin GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Franklin GA local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Franklin GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Franklin GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Franklin GA?
Franklin is a city in Heard County, Georgia, United States. The population was 993 at the 2010 census, up from 902 at the 2000 census. Franklin is the county seat of Heard County. The city is named after Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin is located in central Heard County at 33°16′47″N 85°05′54″W / 33.279788°N 85.098403°W / 33.279788; -85.098403, along the Chattahoochee River. U.S. Route 27 passes through the east side of the city on a bypass, leading north 23 miles (37 km) to Carrollton and south 19 miles (31 km) to LaGrange. Georgia State Route 34 passes through the center of Franklin, leading northeast 20 miles (32 km) to Newnan and southwest 12 miles (19 km) to the Alabama border. Georgia State Route 100 joins SR 34 for part of its path through Franklin, but leads northwest 14 miles (23 km) to Ephesus and southeast 14 miles to Hogansville.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Franklin has a total area of 3.5 square miles (9.0 km2), of which 3.4 square miles (8.7 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km2), or 4.00%, are water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 902 people, 349 households, and 203 families residing in the city. The population density was 277.8 people per square mile (107.2/km²). There were 398 housing units at an average density of 122.6 per square mile (47.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.07% White, 29.93% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.33% from other races, and 0.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.11% of the population.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Franklin GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a vital 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 privacy and comfort of your Franklin home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Franklin GA.
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