How to Select a Paralegal School near Mcdonough Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Mcdonough GA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Mcdonough homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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. 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 assist attorneys in Mcdonough GA with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Mcdonough GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs 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 prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Mcdonough GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Mcdonough GA.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for students in Mcdonough GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs 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 sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Mcdonough GA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Mcdonough GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Mcdonough GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Mcdonough GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within your Mcdonough GA local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Mcdonough GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Mcdonough GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Mcdonough GA?
McDonough is a city in Henry County, Georgia, United States. It is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Its population was 22,084 at the 2010 census, up from 8,493 in 2000. The city is the county seat of Henry County.
The town was named for naval officer Commodore Thomas Macdonough and founded in 1823 around a traditional town square design. The buildings surrounding the square are intact, although there are some vacancies. The county courthouse and historic jail building are on the north side near the Welcome Center in a historically maintained Standard Oil service station, built in 1920. The station also houses the Main Street Program Office and Hospitality and Tourism Office. In the center of the square is a monument to Henry County's Confederate dead.
One block east of the square, the town's original cotton warehouse has been replaced with the Henry County Judicial Center. In the same area the Henry County Courthouse Annex has an original oil on canvas "Cotton Gin" (4½ by 11 feet) by artist Jean Charlot. He painted this oil in 1942 for the town post office. His works can be found all over the world in everything from children's books to large murals.
On June 24, 1900, a washout during a thunderstorm caused a train wreck about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of town. The runoff undermined about 100 feet (30 m) of the Georgia Southern Railroad (Macon division) prior to the accident, and the passenger train subsequently caught fire, killing 39.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Mcdonough GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an essential 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 at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Mcdonough home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Mcdonough GA.
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