How to Select a Paralegal College near Monticello Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Monticello GA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Monticello residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Monticello GA with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready 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 Monticello GA paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Monticello GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Monticello GA.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for those in Monticello GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Monticello GA area schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must 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 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 previously covered, there are other important factors to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify 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 also. A number of Monticello GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Monticello GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Monticello GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those colleges that are within your Monticello GA local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Monticello GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Monticello GA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Monticello GA?
Monticello is the largest city and the county seat of Jasper County, Georgia, United States. The city includes historic buildings such as the Jasper County Courthouse, Monticello High School and the Monticello Historic District. The population was 2,657 at the 2010 census. It is 56 miles (90 km) southeast of Atlanta.
On January 14, 1915, about 100 white men of Monticello formed a lynch mob and lynched a black family of four, including two married women. They took Dan Barber, his son Jesse Barber, and two married daughters Bula and Ella (Barber) Charles from the county jail, where they had been put after being arrested for attacking the chief of police. He had challenged Dan Barber in his house for making liquor illegally. The mob shot and hanged each of the four.
Monticello is located in the center of Jasper County at 33°18′12″N 83°41′9″W / 33.30333°N 83.68583°W / 33.30333; -83.68583 (33.303247, -83.685766). Georgia State Routes 11, 16, 83, and 212 all meet at the center of town. SR 11 leads north 18 miles (29 km) to Mansfield and south 25 miles (40 km) to Gray, SR 16 leads east 17 miles (27 km) to Eatonton and west the same distance to Jackson, SR 83 leads northeast 9 miles (14 km) to Shady Dale and southwest 26 miles (42 km) to Forsyth, and SR 212 leads northwest 42 miles (68 km) to the outskirts of Atlanta and southeast 32 miles (51 km) to Milledgeville.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.4 km2), of which 0.03 square miles (0.07 km2), or 0.89%, are water. The city is part of the Oconee River watershed.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal College near Monticello GA
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Monticello residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Monticello GA.
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