How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Pembroke Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Pembroke GA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get 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 more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Pembroke homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered 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 responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Pembroke GA with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. 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 could help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Pembroke GA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more suited 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 number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Pembroke GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Pembroke GA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be a good option for individuals in Pembroke GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing Pembroke GA area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if 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 commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Pembroke GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Pembroke GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Pembroke GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within your Pembroke GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Pembroke GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Pembroke GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Pembroke GA?
Pembroke is a small city in Bryan County, Georgia, United States. The population was 2,196 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Bryan County. Pembroke is located approximately 35 miles west of Savannah, GA, and approximately 20 miles south of Statesboro, GA.
Pembroke is located in northern Bryan County at 32°08′24″N 81°37′25″W / 32.139892°N 81.623553°W / 32.139892; -81.623553.U.S. Route 280 passes through the center of the city, leading east 10 miles (16 km) to Interstate 16 and 35 miles (56 km) to Savannah. Claxton is 16 miles (26 km) to the west.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Pembroke has a total area of 7.7 square miles (19.9 km2), of which 7.6 square miles (19.6 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 1.17%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,379 people, 819 households, and 630 families residing in the city. The population density was 312.5 people per square mile (120.7/km²). There were 909 housing units at an average density of 119.4 per square mile (46.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 59.56% White, 38.04% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.34% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.64% of the population.
Find the Best Paralegal School near Pembroke GA
Choosing the right paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Pembroke residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Pembroke GA.
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