How to Choose a Paralegal College near La Fayette Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near La Fayette GA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, 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. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their La Fayette residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices 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 fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in La Fayette GA with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a La Fayette GA paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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 means to begin your career in La Fayette GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in La Fayette GA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for students in La Fayette GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating La Fayette GA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of La Fayette GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the La Fayette GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession 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 pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the La Fayette GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within your La Fayette GA local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in La Fayette GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near La Fayette GA, verify classes are offered 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. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in La Fayette GA?
LaFayette (/lʌˈfeɪɛt/ luh-FAY-et) is a city in, and the county seat of, Walker County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 6,702, which rose to 7,121 in 2010. It was founded as Chattooga.
LaFayette was founded as Chattooga, in 1835, as the seat of newly formed Walker County. The county was named after the former United States senator Freeman Walker. Chattooga was renamed LaFayette in 1836 after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat who fought in the American Revolutionary War.
LaFayette is located at 34°42′35″N 85°17′2″W / 34.70972°N 85.28389°W / 34.70972; -85.28389 (34.709704, -85.283862). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.1 square miles (21 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,121 people, 2,712 households, and 1,749 families residing in the city. The population density was 871.6 people per square mile (319.9/km²). There were 2,926 housing units at an average density of 361.6 per square mile (139.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.6% White, 7.5% African American, 0.04% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.76% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.07% of the population.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Training near La Fayette GA
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your La Fayette home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in La Fayette GA.
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