How to Pick a Paralegal College near Hampton Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hampton GA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive 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 increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Hampton residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. 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 responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Hampton GA with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Hampton GA paralegal can be involved 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 paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable 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 have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Hampton GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Hampton GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for those in Hampton GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing Hampton GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Hampton GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Hampton GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including 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 have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Hampton GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those colleges that are within your Hampton GA local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Hampton GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Hampton GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Hampton GA?
Hampton is a city in southwestern Henry County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 6,987, up from 3,857 at the 2000 census. By 2015 the estimated population was 7,372. "Hampton" mailing addresses outside the city limits reach into rural parts of eastern Clayton County and northern Spalding County. It is a southeastern suburb in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
The city was once known as "Bear Creek" or "Bear Creek Station", named after a creek that runs through the area. The town was moved, established and renamed in 1873 when the Central Railroad of Georgia was built approx. one mile to the east. It was named after Brig. General Wade Hampton, an American soldier in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Henry County Airport are located 3 miles (5 km) west of Hampton. The Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center, the Federal Aviation Administration's ARTCC for the airspace over Atlanta and other parts of the Southeast U.S., is located in Hampton.
Hampton is located in southwestern Henry County at 33°22′53″N 84°17′22″W / 33.38139°N 84.28944°W / 33.38139; -84.28944 (33.381522, -84.289573). U.S. Route 19/41, a four-lane highway, runs through the western side of the city, leading north 28 miles (45 km) to downtown Atlanta and south 11 miles (18 km) to Griffin. Georgia State Route 20 runs east from US 19/41 through the southern part of Hampton, leading 7 miles (11 km) to Interstate 75 and 10 miles (16 km) to McDonough.
Find the Right Paralegal Program near Hampton GA
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is an important 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 participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Hampton home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Hampton GA.
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