How to Pick a Paralegal College near Jackson Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Jackson 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 get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Jackson homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, 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 attorneys in Jackson GA with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Jackson GA paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually 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 quickest way to begin your career in Jackson GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Jackson GA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more common and can be a good option for those in Jackson GA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain 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 supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Jackson GA area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Jackson GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Jackson GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Jackson GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to 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 colleges that are within your Jackson GA local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Jackson GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Jackson GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Jackson GA?
Jackson is a city in Butts County, Georgia, United States. The city is the county seat of Butts County. The population was 5,045 in 2010, up from 3,934 at the 2000 census. The community was named after governor James Jackson.
Founded in 1826, Jackson began as a 303-acre (1.23 km2) plot purchased for the purpose of starting the town. The plot was divided into squares and each square into lots. The first buyer of a lot in the new town was John D. Swift of Newton County, Georgia. During the Civil War, much of Jackson was razed by the army of General William T. Sherman during his March to the Sea. After the war, Jackson, like much of the South, struggled economically for decades. Jackson remained little more than a small village until the arrival of the railroads in the latter half of the 19th century. On May 5, 1882, the first train arrived in Jackson, heralding a new era in the transportation of people and goods.
During the 20th century, Jackson grew and industrial textile mills became the largest employer of local citizens. The arrival of Interstate 75 just a few miles to the southwest of the city gave citizens quick access to Atlanta and Macon. The numerous schools throughout the county consolidated into one central school system located in Jackson, and the schools desegregated in 1968. In the 1970s, Jackson slowly became a bedroom community. City taxes were also abolished in the 1970s.
Jackson is located in the center of Butts County at 33°17′37″N 83°57′45″W / 33.293600°N 83.962372°W / 33.293600; -83.962372. It is 46 miles (74 km) southeast of downtown Atlanta. The center of population of Georgia is located 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Jackson near the Butts County/Newton County line.
Choose the Best Paralegal College near Jackson GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Jackson home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Jackson GA.
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