How to Pick a Paralegal School near Shellman Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Shellman GA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Shellman residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly 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 basically both fill comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, 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 attorneys in Shellman GA with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Shellman GA paralegal can be complex and rather 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 proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Shellman GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 address 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 Shellman GA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students in Shellman GA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Shellman GA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Shellman GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Shellman GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Shellman GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success 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 confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Shellman GA local region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Shellman GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Shellman GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Shellman GA?
Shellman is a city in Randolph County, Georgia, United States. The population was 1,166 at the 2000 census. Buildings in the commercial center have been designated as an historic district and listed in 1985 on the National Register of Historic Places.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,166 people, 407 households, and 297 families residing in the city. The population density was 369.8 people per square mile (142.9/km²). There were 465 housing units at an average density of 147.5 per square mile (57.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 30.53% White, 68.87% African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.17% Pacific Islander, and 0.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.43% of the population.
There were 407 households out of which 34.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.8% were married couples living together, 27.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.0% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.45.
In the city, the population was spread out with 32.5% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 84.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.5 males.
Select the Best Paralegal School near Shellman GA
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Shellman residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive 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 decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Shellman GA.
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