How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Lake Park Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lake Park GA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find 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 among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Lake Park residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Lake Park GA with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Lake Park GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more suited 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, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Lake Park GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require 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 comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Lake Park GA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for individuals in Lake Park GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address 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 sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing Lake Park GA area schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial aspects to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Lake Park GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Lake Park GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Lake Park GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important 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 choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those schools that are within your Lake Park GA local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Lake Park GA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Lake Park 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. Last, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Lake Park GA?
Lake Park, Georgia
As of the census of 2000, there were 549 people, 224 households, and 140 families residing in the city. The population density was 385.5 people per square mile (149.3/km²). There were 262 housing units at an average density of 184.0 per square mile (71.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.15% White, 15.66% African American, 1.82% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.36% from other races, and 1.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.19% of the population.
There were 224 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 35.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city, the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 21.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 84.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,359, and the median income for a family was $31,806. Males had a median income of $30,521 versus $17,083 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,715. About 12.8% of families and 19.8% of the population were below the poverty line.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Training near Lake Park GA
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Lake Park home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Lake Park GA.
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