How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Kingston Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kingston GA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Kingston homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Kingston GA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transporting files 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 perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Kingston GA paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, 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 limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education 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 fastest means to begin your career in Kingston GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Kingston GA.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for individuals in Kingston GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Kingston GA area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Kingston GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Kingston GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Kingston GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain 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 might wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Kingston GA local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Kingston GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Kingston GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Kingston GA?
Georgia State Route 293 (Kingston Highway) passes through the center of town, leading southeast 11 miles (18 km) to Cartersville and west 13 miles (21 km) to Rome. U.S. Route 411 is a four-lane highway that passes 1 mile (2 km) south of Kingston, connecting the same two larger communities.
Native American tribes once inhabited the area. People of the Mississippian culture were in the vicinity until about 1500 AD. Cherokee removal occurred locally by 1838. Europeans settlers were moved in as early as 1832, after a land lottery.
On April 12, 1862, James J. Andrews with 18 Union soldiers in disguise, and 1 civilian, having seized the locomotive The General at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw) intending to wreck the Western and Atlantic Railroad, were forced to side-track here and wait for the southbound freights to pass. After a long delay The General continued north. Pursuing from Big Shanty, William Allen Fuller (conductor) led a crew which used a push-car and other means and eventually caught the highjackers.
250 Confederate and two Union soldiers died of wounds, disease and sickness in the Confederate hospitals located here during 1862-1864. These men were wounded in the battles of Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and in the Dalton-Kingston Campaign. The patients were moved to Atlanta in May 1864 to avoid capture by the Union, who later used the hospitals. The dead are buried in unmarked graves nearby.
Find the Right Paralegal Program near Kingston GA
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Kingston home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Kingston GA.
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