How to Find a Paralegal Program near Newton Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Newton GA and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Newton residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at 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 basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Newton GA with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Newton GA paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Newton GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Newton GA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good option for students in Newton GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Newton GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to consider as well, including 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 considering 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 choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Newton GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Newton GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, 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. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may 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 establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Newton GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great 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 might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Newton GA local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Newton GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Newton GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Newton GA?
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.0 square miles (7.8 km2), of which 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.3 km2), or 3.50%, is water.
According to the census of 2000, there were 851 people, 320 households, and 228 families residing in the city. The population density was 292.7 people per square mile (112.9/km²). There were 346 housing units at an average density of 119.0 per square mile (45.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 43.60% White, 53.94% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.94% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.00% of the population.
There were 320 households out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 28.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.8% were non-families. 25.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the city, the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 17.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.8 males.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Training near Newton GA
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Newton home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Newton GA.
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