How to Find a Paralegal College near Newnan Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Newnan GA and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Newnan homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly 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 functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Newnan GA with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Newnan GA paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Newnan GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Newnan GA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and may be a good alternative for students in Newnan GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Newnan GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Newnan GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Newnan GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Newnan GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those schools that are within your Newnan GA local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, 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 as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Newnan GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Newnan GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Newnan GA?
Newnan is a city in Metro Atlanta and the county seat of Coweta County, Georgia, approximately 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Atlanta. The population was 33,039 at the 2010 census, up from 16,242 in 2000, for a growth rate of 153.1% over that decade.
Newnan was established as county seat of Coweta County (replacing the defunct town of Bullsboro) in 1828 and was named for North Carolinian General Daniel Newnan. It quickly became a prosperous magnet for lawyers, doctors, other professionals, and merchants. Much of Newnan's prosperity was due to its thriving cotton industry, which relied on slavery.
Newnan was largely untouched by the Civil War due to its status as a hospital city (for Confederate troops), and as a result still features much antebellum architecture. Celebrated architect Kennon Perry designed many of the town's 20th century homes. During the Atlanta Campaign, Confederate cavalry defeated Union forces at the nearby Battle of Brown's Mill.
On April 23, 1899, a notorious lynching occurred after an African-American man by the name of Sam Hose (born Tom Wilkes) was accused of killing his boss, Alfred Cranford. Hose was abducted from police custody, paraded through Newnan, tortured, and burned alive just north of town by a lynch mob of approximately 2,000 citizens of Coweta County.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Training near Newnan GA
Selecting the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Newnan residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide 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 elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Newnan GA.
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