How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Preston Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Preston GA and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Preston residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same 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 Preston GA with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Preston GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 quickest way to begin your career in Preston GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Preston GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good alternative for those in Preston GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Preston GA area schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency 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 training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Preston GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Preston GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided 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 have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Preston GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those colleges that are within your Preston GA local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Preston GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Preston GA, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Preston GA?
Preston is an unincorporated community in Webster County, Georgia, United States, located seventeen miles west of Americus. The population was 453 at the 2000 census. From 1857 to 2009, Preston was an incorporated municipality. The community is the county seat of Webster County.
Preston was founded in 1856 as the seat of Webster County. It was incorporated as a town in 1857 and as a city in 1977. In 2009, the city was disincorporated and became part of the Unified Government of Webster County.
As of the census of 2000, there were 453 people, 190 households, and 129 families residing in the town. The population density was 100.1 people per square mile (38.6/km²). There were 205 housing units at an average density of 45.3 per square mile (17.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 67.77% White, 28.26% African American, 0.22% Native American, 3.53% from other races, and 0.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.75% of the population.
There were 190 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.6% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.93.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Program near Preston GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee 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 Preston home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Preston GA.
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