How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Hardwick Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Hardwick GA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Hardwick homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options 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 the same job positions 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Hardwick GA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Hardwick GA paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Hardwick GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Hardwick GA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good option for individuals in Hardwick GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of assessing Hardwick GA area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible 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 especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Hardwick GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Hardwick GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose 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 call some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Hardwick GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within your Hardwick GA local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Hardwick GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Hardwick GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Hardwick GA?
Hardwick, Baldwin County, Georgia
Hardwick is a census-designated place (CDP) in Baldwin County, Georgia, United States. The population was 3,930 at the 2010 census, down from 5,819 in 2000, at which time it was listed as Midway-Hardwick. It is laid out around Central State Hospital. It is part of the Milledgeville Micropolitan Statistical Area. The zip code for Hardwick is 31034. Hardwick was home to Oglethorpe University during the 19th century.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,819 people, 1,868 households, and 1,277 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,046.8 people per square mile (403.8/km²). There were 2,223 housing units at an average density of 453.2/sq mi (174.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 25.02% White, 72.56% African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.31% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.58% of the population.
There were 1,868 households out of which 34.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.0% were married couples living together, 30.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.6% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 80.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.1 males.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Hardwick GA
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Hardwick residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Hardwick GA.
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