How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Newington Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Newington GA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. 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 on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Newington residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess 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 instructional options 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 functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Newington GA with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. 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 may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Newington GA paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Newington GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six 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. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Newington GA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for those in Newington GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Newington GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. 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 covered, there are other critical issues to research also, 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 investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Newington GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Newington GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember 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 offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Newington GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within your Newington GA local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Newington GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Newington GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Newington GA?
As of the census of 2000, there were 322 people, 137 households, and 89 families residing in the town. The population density was 394.1 people per square mile (151.6/km²). There were 154 housing units at an average density of 188.5 per square mile (72.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 69.88% White, 25.78% African American, 1.24% from other races, and 3.11% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.11% of the population.
There were 137 households out of which 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.0% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.98.
The population is spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 23.6% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $22,750, and the median income for a family was $23,125. Males had a median income of $27,917 versus $19,000 for females. Per capita income for the town is $11,326. About 25.2% of families and 33.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 56.3% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Training near Newington GA
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Newington residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Newington GA.
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