How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Oxford Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Oxford GA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Oxford residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options 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 comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 help lawyers in Oxford GA with a diverse array 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. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Oxford GA paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Oxford GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Oxford GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more common and may be a good option for students in Oxford GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Oxford GA area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Oxford GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Oxford GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Oxford GA legal community. 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 upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Oxford GA local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Oxford GA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Oxford GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Oxford GA?
The town was named after Oxford University, the alma mater of the founders of Oxford College. The entire town is also designated as a shrine of the United Methodist Church. Additionally, Confederate soldiers are buried in a small cemetery on the grounds of Oxford College.
Properties in Oxford listed on the National Register of Historic Places include: Oxford Historic District and the Orna Villa, a mansion, which was built in 1825, which was used as a hospital during the American Civil War.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,892 people, 509 households, and 387 families residing in the city. The population density was 740.0 people per square mile (285.4/km²). There were 534 housing units at an average density of 208.9 per square mile (80.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.62% White, 32.72% African American, 0.42% Native American, 4.07% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.85% of the population.
There were 509 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.0% were married couples living together, 18.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.8% were non-families. Of all households 20.8% were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.00.
Choose the Best Paralegal Training near Oxford GA
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a vital 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 on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Oxford residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Oxford GA.
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