How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Scottdale Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Scottdale GA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Scottdale homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 basically both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Scottdale GA with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Scottdale GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Scottdale GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Scottdale GA.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students in Scottdale GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Scottdale GA area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Scottdale GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Scottdale GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may have an interest 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 could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Scottdale GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Scottdale GA local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Scottdale GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Scottdale GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Scottdale GA?
Scottdale, aka SCD is located at 33°47′40″N 84°15′44″W / 33.79444°N 84.26222°W / 33.79444; -84.26222 (33.794337, -84.262110). The unincorporated community is centered on East Ponce de Leon Avenue, between Decatur and Clarkston. The northern boundary is Stone Mountain Freeway; the eastern boundary is Interstate 285; the western boundary is roughly DeKalb Industrial Blvd.; and the southern boundary is roughly the city limits of Avondale Estates. The ZIP code for Scottdale is 30079.
According to the 2010 census, there were 10,631 people residing in the CDP. The racial makeup of the CDP was 29.9% White, 37.7% African American, 0.20% Native American, 23.0% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races, and 3.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.3% of the population. 12.7% of the population are Asian Indians. As of the census of 2000, there were 9,803 people, 4,010 households, and 2,201 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 2,818.2 people per square mile (1,087.6/km²). There were 4,236 housing units at an average density of 1,217.8/sq mi (470.0/km²). The racial makeup of Scottdale was 48.6% Black, 37.1% White, 0.19% Native American, 9.60% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 1.7% from other races, and 2.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.5% of the population.
There were 4,010 households out of which 67.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.8% were married couples living together, 69.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.1% were non-families. 18.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 34.5% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 39.3% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 64.4 males.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal College near Scottdale GA
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is an essential 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 at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Scottdale residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Scottdale GA.
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