How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Quitman Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Quitman GA and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate 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 one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Quitman homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly 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 positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Quitman 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 duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Quitman GA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 start your career in Quitman GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Quitman GA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be a good option for students in Quitman GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, 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 may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Quitman GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered 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 especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation 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 thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on 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 demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Quitman GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Quitman GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when 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 provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Quitman GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those schools that are within your Quitman GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Quitman GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Quitman GA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Quitman GA?
Quitman County, Georgia
Quitman County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,513, making it the second-least populous county in Georgia. The county seat is Georgetown. The county was created on December 10, 1858 and named after General John A. Quitman, leader in the Mexican-American War, and once Governor of Mississippi.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 161 square miles (420 km2), of which 151 square miles (390 km2) is land and 9.3 square miles (24 km2) (5.8%) is water. The entirety of Quitman County is located in the Middle Chattahoochee River-Walter F. George Lake sub-basin of the ACF River Basin (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin).
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,598 people, 1,047 households, and 755 families residing in the county. The population density was 7/km² (17/mi²). There were 1,773 housing units at an average density of 5/km² (12/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 52.12% White, 46.88% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.04% Asian, 0.19% from other races, and 0.54% from two or more races. 0.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,047 households out of which 26.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.20% were married couples living together, 18.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.80% were non-families. 24.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.95.
Find the Best Paralegal College near Quitman GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Quitman home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Quitman GA.
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