How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Helen Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Helen GA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Helen residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives 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 the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Helen GA with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Helen GA paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Helen GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Helen GA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students in Helen GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. 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 disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Helen GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Helen GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Helen GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Helen GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable 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 select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Helen GA local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary 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 education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Helen GA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Helen GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Helen GA?
Formerly a logging town that was in decline, the city resurrected itself by becoming a replica of a Bavarian alpine town, in the Appalachians instead of the Alps. This design is mandated through zoning first adopted in 1969, so that the classic south-German style is present on every building, even on the small number of national franchisees present (such as Huddle House and Wendy's).
Because of this, tourism is the main industry in Helen, catering mostly to weekend visitors from the Atlanta area and also motorcyclists who enjoy riding the beautiful roads of Helen and its surrounding areas during all seasons. Helen is extremely crowded in late October, when autumn leaves typically peak. It also hosts its own Oktoberfest during September, October and November. There are many events and festivals throughout the year. One of the most well-known is Southern Worthersee, which is a stateside Volkswagen and Audi event that pays tribute to the Worthersee Tour in Austria with attendance of approximately 20,000 people. Also the annual hot-air balloon race held the first weekend in June.
The main road through town is north/south Georgia 75. The Helen stream gauge (HDCG1) is located on its bridge over the Chattahoochee in the middle of downtown. A parallel route to the west is labeled Georgia 75 Alt to identify it as a bypass route around the town and its massive traffic jams in the autumn and on some weekends.
Unicoi State Park and Lodge, spanning 1,050 acres, is located immediately northeast of Helen on Georgia 356. The park encompasses Unicoi Lake, a 53-acre freshwater lake, offering outdoor activities for all seasons. Among them are a swimming beach, trout streams, wheelchair-accessible fishing docks, seasonal canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals, seven picnic shelters with charcoal grills, three playgrounds for children, many spots for birding, 7.5 miles of hiking within the park (with adjacent trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest), 8 miles of mountain biking trails within the park, and plenty of places to enjoy the natural beauty of the lake and park. Unicoi State Park also offers lodging in several forms. Access to Anna Ruby Falls, part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, is located through the park.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Training near Helen GA
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Helen home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education 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 decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Helen GA.
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