How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Lithonia Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Lithonia GA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Lithonia homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available 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 roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Lithonia GA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Lithonia GA paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted 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 functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Lithonia GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Lithonia GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for students in Lithonia GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced 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 obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Lithonia GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation 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 thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. 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. A number of Lithonia GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Lithonia GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Lithonia GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within your Lithonia GA local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Lithonia GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Lithonia GA, verify 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, find out what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Lithonia GA?
"Lithonia" means "city/town of stone". Lithonia is in the heart of the Georgian granite-quarrying and viewing region, hence the name of the town, from the Greek λίθος lithos, for stone. The huge nearby granite dome, Stone Mountain, is composed largely of a rock called Lithonia gneiss, a form of granite. The area has a history of rock quarries. The mines were served by the Georgia Railroad and Atlanta, Stone Mountain & Lithonia Railway. Some of the rock quarries have been converted to parkland and the rail lines to rail-trail.
Lithonia is located in southeastern DeKalb County at 33°42′46″N 84°6′21″W / 33.71278°N 84.10583°W / 33.71278; -84.10583 (33.712658, -84.105897).Interstate 20 passes just south of the community, with access from Exits 74 and 75. Lithonia is 18 miles (29 km) east of the center of Atlanta.
In 1805, Lithonia began as a small crossroads settlement of farmers. The town grew with the coming of the Atlanta Augusta Railroad in 1845, which allowed the granite quarrying industry in the area to flourish.
Lithonia is the birthplace of the Lithonia Lighting company, one of North America's largest manufacturers of commercial, institutional, industrial and residential light fixtures, which was founded in the city in 1946 but moved to nearby Conyers in the 1950s.
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Lithonia GA
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Lithonia residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including 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 prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Lithonia GA.
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