How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Lavonia Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Lavonia GA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Lavonia homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Lavonia GA with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Lavonia GA paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Lavonia GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Lavonia GA.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals in Lavonia GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain 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 organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Lavonia GA area schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Lavonia GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Lavonia GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Lavonia GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high 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 students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within your Lavonia GA local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, 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 as well. Financial assistance may be available to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Lavonia GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Lavonia GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Lavonia GA?
Lavonia is located in northeastern Franklin County at 34°26′10″N 83°6′23″W / 34.43611°N 83.10639°W / 34.43611; -83.10639 (34.436055, -83.106270). A small portion of the town extends southeast into Hart County.
The Cherokee people were indigenous to the area in which Lavonia is located. A sophisticated tribe that typically dwelled in cabins by the 18th century, the Cherokee joined with the British during the American Revolution. When the American colonists prevailed, their land was issued as bounty land to those who had fought in the revolution. As a result, people of European ancestry began to move into the Lavonia area during the 1780s.
The founding of the town of Lavonia came as the result of the expansion of the railroad in northeast Georgia. A railroad line known as the Elberton-Airline Railroad desired another station further to the north. In a move typical for the time, businessmen in the area determined to build a town around the new railroad station. Upon division of the area into town lots and completion of all necessary legal procedures, the town of Lavonia was incorporated in 1880.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,827 people, 777 households, and 519 families residing in the city. The population density was 470.0 people per square mile (181.3/km²). There were 882 housing units at an average density of 226.9 per square mile (87.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.24% White, 28.95% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.38% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.88% of the population.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Training near Lavonia GA
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is a vital first step toward 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 attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Lavonia residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Lavonia GA.
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