How to Find a Paralegal Program near Greenville Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Greenville GA and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Greenville homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered also. Later on in this post 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 choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly 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 for the most part both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Greenville GA with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Greenville GA paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Greenville GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Greenville GA.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals in Greenville GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Greenville GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Greenville GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Greenville GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Greenville GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within your Greenville GA local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, 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 aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Greenville GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Greenville GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Greenville GA?
Greenville is a city in Meriwether County, Georgia, United States. The population was 946 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Meriwether County and is located 54.9 miles (88.4 km) southwest of Atlanta. It is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area (Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area).
As of the census of 2000, there were 946 people, 354 households, and 236 families residing in the city. The population density was 520.8 people per square mile (200.7/km²). There were 432 housing units at an average density of 237.8 per square mile (91.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 26.43% White, 73.15% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.11% Pacific Islander, and 0.21% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.32% of the population.
There were 354 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.5% were married couples living together, 29.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.35.
In the city, the population was spread out with 28.3% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 84.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 73.8 males.
Find the Best Paralegal Training near Greenville GA
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying 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 Greenville home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Greenville GA.
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