How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Oconee Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Oconee GA and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Oconee homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices 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 positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Oconee GA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Oconee GA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Oconee GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address 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 Oconee GA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Oconee GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Oconee 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 in order to 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 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 important issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Oconee GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Oconee GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Oconee GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Oconee GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Oconee GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Oconee GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Oconee GA?
Oconee County, Georgia
Oconee County was created from the southwestern part of Clarke County in 1875 by the Georgia General Assembly. The new county was created to satisfy southwestern Clarke County residents' demand for their own county after the county seat was moved from Watkinsville to Athens by the General Assembly in 1872. It is named for the river flowing along part of its eastern border.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 186 square miles (480 km2), of which 184 square miles (480 km2) is land and 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2) (1.1%) is water. The entirety of Oconee County is located in the Upper Oconee River sub-basin of the Altamaha River basin.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 32,808 people, 11,622 households, and 9,346 families residing in the county. The population density was 178.0 inhabitants per square mile (68.7/km2). There were 12,383 housing units at an average density of 67.2 per square mile (25.9/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 88.4% white, 5.0% black or African American, 3.1% Asian, 0.1% American Indian, 2.0% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 4.4% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 19.9% were English, 14.7% were American, 13.3% were Irish, and 12.2% were German.
Of the 11,622 households, 43.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.4% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 19.6% were non-families, and 16.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.16. The median age was 39.1 years.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal College near Oconee GA
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Oconee residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Oconee GA.
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