How to Pick a Paralegal School near Oglethorpe Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Oglethorpe GA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Oglethorpe residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially 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 are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Oglethorpe GA with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Oglethorpe GA paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Oglethorpe GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Oglethorpe GA.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for those in Oglethorpe GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Oglethorpe GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant aspects to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable 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 focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Oglethorpe GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Oglethorpe GA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select 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 rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Oglethorpe GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Oglethorpe GA local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Oglethorpe GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Oglethorpe GA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Oglethorpe GA?
Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
Fort Oglethorpe is a city predominantly in Catoosa County with some portions in Walker County in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 9,263. It is part of the Chattanooga, TN–GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is home to Lakeview – Fort Oglethorpe High School.
The United States Army established a cavalry post at the site of Hargrave, Georgia, an unincorporated town situated next to the Chickamauga National Battlefield. The existing settlement was named for a Confederate soldier, William Hamilton Hargrave, who along with his wife Amelia Cecilia Strange-Hargrave owned most of the land in the area. The couple was well known in the 19th century to travellers heading to Ross's Landing on the Tennessee River from LaFayette, Georgia. William Hargrave and other landowners in the area were forced to sell their property to the Army to be used as a base for the 6th Cavalry. The Chickamauga Post established in 1902 by the U.S. Army was later named Fort Oglethorpe after James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Colony of Georgia. During World War I and World War II, the area served as a war-time induction and processing center, and also housed German prisoners of war. Fort Oglethorpe was a major training center for the Women's Army Corps during World War II. The post was declared surplus in 1947 and sold to civilians, forming the nucleus for a city that was incorporated in 1949.
Fort Oglethorpe is located in western Catoosa County and northeastern Walker County at 34°56′44″N 85°14′44″W / 34.94556°N 85.24556°W / 34.94556; -85.24556 (34.945683, -85.245653). It is 9 miles (14 km) south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, by U.S. Route 27, which also leads south 18 miles (29 km) to LaFayette, Georgia. The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park takes up the southern two-thirds of the city's area.
As of the 2000 U.S. census, there were 6,940 people, 2,873 households, and 1,881 families residing in the city. The population density was 532.6 people per square mile (205.6/km²). There were 3,108 housing units at an average density of 238.5 per square mile (92.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.14% White, 2.38% African American, 0.19% Native American, 2.07% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.56% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.41% of the population.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Oglethorpe GA
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward 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 Oglethorpe residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Oglethorpe GA.
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