How to Find a Paralegal School near Pearson Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Pearson GA and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. 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 at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Pearson homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options 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 hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Pearson GA with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. 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 trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- 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 role of a Pearson GA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Pearson GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Pearson GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be a good option for those in Pearson GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure 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 respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Pearson GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Pearson GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Pearson GA paralegal programs you are looking at. 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 quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify 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 what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Pearson GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Pearson GA local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Pearson GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Pearson GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Pearson GA?
Pearson was founded in 1875 as a depot on the Brunswick and Western Railroad. It was incorporated as a town in 1890 and in 1916 as a city. The community was named after Benajah Pearson, a veteran of the Second Seminole War.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,805 people, 635 households, and 417 families residing in the city. The population density was 624.1 people per square mile (241.1/km²). There were 742 housing units at an average density of 256.6 per square mile (99.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 38.73% White, 38.45% African American, 1.05% Native American, 21.61% from other races, and 0.17% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28.20% of the population.
There were 635 households out of which 38.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.8% were married couples living together, 21.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.43.
In the city, the population was spread out with 31.5% under the age of 18, 14.4% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.2 males.
Select the Best Paralegal School near Pearson GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Pearson home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program 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, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Pearson GA.
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