How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Pelham Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Pelham GA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Pelham residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 the same job roles and responsibilities, 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 attorneys in Pelham GA with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Pelham GA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education 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 educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Pelham GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages 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 Pelham GA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Pelham GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Pelham GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Pelham GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Pelham GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Pelham GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, 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 success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within your Pelham GA local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned 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 books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Pelham GA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Pelham GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Pelham GA?
Pelham is a city in Mitchell County, Georgia, United States. The population was 3,898 at the 2010 census. Pelham is at the crossroads of US 19 and State Route 93 and is approximately 38 miles (61 km) south of Albany and about 26 miles (42 km) north of Thomasville.
Pelham has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by humid summers and mild winters. It receives 52 inches of rain per year. The average number of days with any measurable precipitation is 90. Pelham has on average 233 sunny days per year. The July high is around 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The January low is 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,126 people, 1,467 households and 999 families in the city. The population density was 1,019.2 people per square mile (393.3/km²). There were 1,591 housing units at an average density of 393.0 per square mile (151.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 56.13% African American, 41.66% White, 0.24% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.78% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.43% of the population.
There were 1,467 households, out of which 33.9% had children younger than 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 28.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.21.
Select the Right Paralegal Training near Pelham GA
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Pelham residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Pelham GA.
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