How to Select a Paralegal College near Harlem Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Harlem GA and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate 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 among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Harlem homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, only 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 assist lawyers in Harlem GA with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may 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 the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Harlem GA paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really 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 manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Harlem GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Harlem GA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for those in Harlem GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more 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 school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Harlem GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting 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 should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Harlem GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Harlem GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Harlem GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable 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’s Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those schools that are within your Harlem GA local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Harlem GA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Harlem GA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Harlem GA?
Harlem is a city in Columbia County, Georgia, United States. It is part of the Augusta, Georgia metropolitan area. The population was 2,666 at the 2010 census, up from 1,814 in 2000. Harlem is the birthplace of comedian Oliver Hardy; the annual Harlem Oliver Hardy Festival is held on the first Saturday each October on Main Street in his honor.
From the building of the Georgia Railroad which passes through town until at least the 1860s, Harlem was known as Saw Dust. The town is twinned with Ulverston in England, the birthplace of Stan Laurel, the partner of Oliver Hardy.
Harlem is located in southern Columbia County at 33°25′1″N 82°18′50″W / 33.41694°N 82.31389°W / 33.41694; -82.31389 (33.416822, -82.313762), with its western boundary following the McDuffie County line. U.S. Routes 78 and 278 pass through the center of town, leading east 23 miles (37 km) to downtown Augusta and west 12 miles (19 km) to Thomson. U.S. Route 221 crosses US 78/278 in the center of town, leading north 5 miles (8 km) to Interstate 20 and 21 miles (34 km) to the South Carolina border, and south 16 miles (26 km) to Wrens.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,814 people, 704 households, and 506 families residing in the city. The population density was 719.9 people per square mile (277.9/km²). There were 763 housing units at an average density of 302.8 per square mile (116.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.95% White, 25.41% African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.88% Asian, 1.10% from other races, and 1.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.26% of the population.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal College near Harlem GA
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Harlem residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Harlem GA.
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