How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Pooler Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Pooler GA and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Pooler residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be considered as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just 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 Pooler GA with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Pooler GA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted 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, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Pooler GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous 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. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Pooler GA.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Pooler GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Pooler GA area schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree 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 already covered, there are other critical issues to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Pooler GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Pooler GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Pooler GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps 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 go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Pooler GA local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs 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. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Pooler GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Pooler GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Pooler GA?
Pooler is a city in Chatham County, Georgia, United States. According to 2010 US Census, the population was 19,140, a threefold increase over the 2000 count of 6,239. The 2013 population estimate was 21,187. Pooler is located northwest of Savannah along I-95 and Interstate 16.
During the Civil War, Pooler was a railway stop called Pooler's Station—the last stop before Savannah on the Central of Georgia Railway. In December 1864, Pooler was a meeting place for Union officers led by William Tecumseh Sherman, who negotiated with Savannah authorities for the strategic port city's peaceful surrender.
Today, Pooler is the center for commercial development in west Chatham County. Godley Station, the center for business development, has been successful in attracting large companies such as construction equipment manufacturer JCB to the area. Newer shopping centers such as The Shops at Godley Station are bringing new revenue to the area. Low crime and a small-town community atmosphere have all been factors in its explosive growth. Pooler is now one of Georgia's fastest-growing cities.
Pooler is located in northwestern Chatham County at 32°6′17″N 81°15′12″W / 32.10472°N 81.25333°W / 32.10472; -81.25333. It is bordered by Port Wentworth to the north, Garden City to the east, a far-flung portion of Savannah to the north/northeast (Airport) and the southwest, and Bloomingdale to the west. U.S. Route 80 intersects Interstate 95 just east of the city center; US 80 leads 9 miles (14 km) east to downtown Savannah, while I-95 leads north into South Carolina and south 132 miles (212 km) to Jacksonville, Florida.
Choose the Best Paralegal Training near Pooler GA
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Pooler home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Pooler GA.
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