How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Marietta Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Marietta GA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Marietta homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should 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 offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Marietta GA with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties 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 firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Marietta GA paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Marietta GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Marietta GA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more available and can be a good option for individuals in Marietta GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can 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 receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Marietta GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Marietta GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Marietta GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Marietta GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within your Marietta GA local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? 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 education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Marietta GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Marietta GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Marietta GA?
As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 56,579. The 2017 estimate is 61,048, making it one of Atlanta's largest suburbs. Marietta is the fourth largest of the principal cities (by population) of the Atlanta metropolitan statistical area.
The origin of the name is uncertain. It is believed that the city was named for Mary Cobb, the wife of U.S. Senator and Superior Court judge Thomas Willis Cobb. Judge Cobb is the namesake of the county.
Homes were built by early settlers near the Cherokee town of Big Shanty (now Kennesaw) prior to 1824. The first plat was laid out in 1833. Like most towns, Marietta had a square (see Marietta Square) in the center with a courthouse. The Georgia General Assembly legally recognized the community on December 19, 1834.
Built in 1838, Oakton House is the oldest continuously occupied residence in Marietta. The original barn, milk house, smokehouse, and wellhouse remain on the property. The spectacular gardens contain the boxwood parterre from the 1870s. Oakton served as Major General Loring's headquarters during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Marietta GA
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Marietta home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Marietta GA.
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