How to Choose a Paralegal School near Milledgeville Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Milledgeville GA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Milledgeville homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Milledgeville GA with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Milledgeville GA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training 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 academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Milledgeville GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Milledgeville GA.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be a good option for students in Milledgeville GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Milledgeville GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most 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 important aspects to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, 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 future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Milledgeville GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Milledgeville GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing 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 a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Milledgeville GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within your Milledgeville GA local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. 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 as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Milledgeville GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Milledgeville GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Milledgeville GA?
Milledgeville is a city in and the county seat of Baldwin County in the U.S. state of Georgia. It is northeast of Macon and bordered on the east by the Oconee River. The rapid current of the river here made this an attractive location to build a city. It was the capital of Georgia from 1804 to 1868, notably during the American Civil War. Milledgeville was preceded as the capital city by Louisville and was succeeded by Atlanta, the current capital. Today U.S. Highway 441 connects Milledgeville to Madison, Athens, and Dublin.
Milledgeville is along the route of the Fall Line Freeway, which is under construction to link Milledgeville with Augusta, Macon, Columbus, and other Fall Line cities. They have long histories from the colonial era of Georgia.
Milledgeville is the principal city of the Milledgeville Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that includes Baldwin and Hancock counties. It had a combined population of 54,776 at the 2000 census. The Old State Capitol is located here; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Much of the original city is contained within the boundaries of the Milledgeville Historic District, which was also added to the NRHP.
Milledgeville, named after Georgia governor John Milledge (in office 1802–1806), was founded by European Americans at the start of the 19th century as the new centrally located capital of the state of Georgia. It served as the state capital from 1804 to 1868.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Milledgeville GA
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Milledgeville residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Milledgeville GA.
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