How to Find a Paralegal Program near Oakwood Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Oakwood GA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Oakwood homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take 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 essentially both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 attorneys in Oakwood GA with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Oakwood GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, 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 confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Oakwood GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession 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 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 Oakwood GA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for those in Oakwood GA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss 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 sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Oakwood GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to 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 degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Oakwood GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Oakwood GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying 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 rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Oakwood GA legal community. Ask 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 probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools 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 sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within your Oakwood GA local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Oakwood GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Oakwood GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Oakwood GA?
Oakwood is a city in Hall County, Georgia, United States. It is part of the Gainesville, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,970 at the 2010 census, up from 2,689 in 2000. Oakwood is home to the University of North Georgia Gainesville Campus and Wayne Farms.
Oakwood is located southwest of the center of Hall County at 34°13′52″N 83°52′57″W / 34.23111°N 83.88250°W / 34.23111; -83.88250 (34.230976, −83.882364). It is bordered to the northeast by the city of Gainesville, the county seat, and to the southwest by the city of Flowery Branch.
Oakwood was named after the railroad tracks that ran, and still are running as of 2008, through Oakwood and Gainesville. Because most of the cars contained wood (particularly high quality oak), it seemed reasonable to name the city after that type of lumber.
Oakwood was initially called "O'Dell's Crossing" for its main landowner, Ulysses S. O'Dell Sr. The O'Dell home place was located only a few hundred feet from the railroad track. The name changed in 1896 because Southern Railway trains would stop on the way from Atlanta to Gainesville to get oak wood for their engines.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Training near Oakwood GA
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee 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 Oakwood home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Oakwood GA.
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