How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Morrow Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Morrow GA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. 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 being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Morrow homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, 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 help attorneys in Morrow GA with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Morrow GA paralegal can be complex and very demanding. 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume 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 arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Morrow GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Morrow GA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more available and can be a good option for those in Morrow GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Morrow GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Morrow GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Morrow GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided 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 graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Morrow GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. 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 may want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Morrow GA local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Morrow GA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as 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 in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Morrow GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Morrow GA?
Morrow is located north of the center of Clayton County at 33°34′43″N 84°20′24″W / 33.57861°N 84.34000°W / 33.57861; -84.34000 (33.578477, -84.340117). It is bordered to the north by Lake City and to the northwest by Forest Park. Downtown Atlanta is 13 miles (21 km) to the north. Interstate 75 passes through the southern part of the city, with access from Exit 233. The Southlake Mall is in the southwest part of the city near I-75.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,882 people, 1,731 households, and 1,166 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,656.9 people per square mile (639.0/km²). There were 1,823 housing units at an average density of 618.7 per square mile (238.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.1% African American, 36.4% White, 0.3% Native American, 12.9% Asian, 4% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6% of the population.
There were 1,731 households out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.4% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.6% were non-families. 22.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the city, the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 15.5% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.
Find the Right Paralegal School near Morrow GA
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Morrow home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Morrow GA.
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