How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Lizella Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lizella GA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Lizella residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly 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 basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, 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 help attorneys in Lizella 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 duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Lizella GA paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number 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 perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Lizella GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 program (we will address the advantages 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 Lizella GA.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be a good option for students in Lizella GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional 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 schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Lizella GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Lizella GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Lizella GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as 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 have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Lizella GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish 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 assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those colleges that are within your Lizella GA local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based 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 books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Lizella GA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lizella GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Lizella GA?
Lizella is an unincorporated community in Bibb and Crawford County, Georgia, United States, approximately 11 miles southwest of Macon. It is part of the Macon Metropolitan Statistical Area. Lizella is home to a single post office, several churches, a fire station, a sheriff's sub-station, a small shopping center, a private swimming pool, a private baseball field, and a closed elementary school (W.B. Redding Elementary School). Also, U.S. Route 80 passes through Lizella.
Originally Warrior, a Native American settlement, it became a white settlement in 1821. Lizella was established circa 1891, when the Macon and Birmingham Railroad Co. laid tracks to LaGrange amid a collection of farms west of Macon. The community it formed was dubbed Lizella by postmaster James E. Eubanks, according to the history book 'Remembering Lizella.' Eubanks drew the name from his two daughters, Lizzie and Ella.
Lake Tobesofkee, less than a mile from Lizella, has three parks. Claystone and Sandy Beach Parks, located on Moseley-Dixon Road near I-475 and Arrowhead Park, located on Columbus Road near U.S. 80. Each Park features covered picnic pavilions, clean and well maintained grounds and ample restroom facilities.
Claystone and Sandy Beach Parks have large beaches with children's playgrounds. Sandy Beach also offers lighted tennis courts and a softball field for public use. The Beaches are topped with pure, white sand during the summer season. Each beach is also staffed with lifeguards.
Find the Best Paralegal Program near Lizella GA
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Lizella residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Lizella GA.
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