How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Midland Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Midland GA and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Midland homes. Of those options, they look 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 consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, 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 for the most part both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Midland GA with a diverse array of job functions, including 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. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Midland GA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Midland GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be earned 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 also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Midland GA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for students in Midland GA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Midland GA area schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Midland GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Midland GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Midland GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain 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 need to initially look at those colleges that are within your Midland GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Midland GA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Midland GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Midland GA?
Georgia Midland and Gulf Railroad
The Georgia Midland and Gulf Railroad was chartered in 1885 and began operations in 1887, running from Columbus, GA to McDonough, GA. In 1890, the line leased the Columbus Southern Railway but was forced to cancel the lease a year later due to financial issues. The GM&G finally entered bankruptcy in 1895 and was sold to the Georgia Midland Railway which was founded in 1896 to take over the failed Georgia Midland and Gulf Railroad, the Georgia Midland Railway operated about 100 miles of rail from McDonough, GA to Columbus, GA. The railroad didn't even last a full year when it was leased to the Southern Railway, but it remained a subsidiary until it was merged into the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1996.
It ran from McDonough in the north through several communities in Henry County, GA such as Greenwood and Luella into northern Spalding County, GA passing through Experiment, GA and crossing the Central of Georgia Railroad in Griffin, GA. From there it ran south toward Williamson, GA in Pike County, crossing the old A&F line, and on into Concord, GA then on into Meriwether County, GA where it passed through Woodbury, GA. It then continued south toward and through Warm Springs, GA and then further south into Columbus, GA. Portions of this line still exist, mostly from McDonough to Greenwood (Liberty), and from the northern Spalding County line near the old Towaliga Station toward Experiment. This section is currently being refurbished by the Roosevelt Railroad. Then from Griffin south to Georgia State Route 362. Most all the other stretches have been pulled up.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Midland GA
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Midland residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Midland GA.
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