How to Find a Paralegal Program near Snellville Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Snellville GA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Snellville residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices 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 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Snellville GA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Snellville GA paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. 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 proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited 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 cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Snellville GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Snellville GA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals in Snellville GA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Snellville GA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Snellville GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Snellville GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Snellville GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. 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 an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those colleges that are within your Snellville GA local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price 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 also. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Snellville GA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Snellville GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Snellville GA?
In 1874 Thomas Snell and James Sawyer, seventeen-year-old friends from London, secretly planned a voyage to the New World. On March 18, James Sawyer and his brother, Charles, left England. However, Snell's parents, having learned of the plan, wouldn't allow him to leave, thus delaying his departure. The Sawyer brothers arrived in New York on April 1, and after a few weeks headed toward Athens, Georgia, and then to Madison County, where they stayed and worked on a farm for $10 a month. Snell did eventually follow his friends to New York and made his way south to meet them. The three then made their way through Jefferson and Lawrenceville. Shortly after Snell's arrival, Charles left for Pennsylvania, later returning to the South and settling in Alabama, where he went into the turpentine business. James had gone also, in search of his brother, leaving Snell to work on the farm of A. A. Dyer.
Unable to find his brother, James Sawyer returned to New York and began work on a farm near the Hudson River area until his 21st birthday in 1878, when he returned to England to claim his inheritance. Shortly following, in August 1879, he returned to Americus, Georgia, and then Gwinnett County. Once in Gwinnett County, Sawyer found Snell in the small settlement then known as New London, near Stone Mountain. In the homestead that Snell now referred to as Snellville, the two built a small wood frame building and started a business together, Snell and Sawyer's Store, similar to the one in which they were employed in London. As was common in small mill towns of the time, they printed store money with the trade value and Snell's likeness on the front that regular customers could use to purchase goods. By the end of 1879, the business was prospering and catering to customers from the neighboring towns of Lawrenceville and Loganville. Travelers would buy supplies at "Snell and Sawyer's" and often spend the night in the nearby oak groves, as the trip was too great for one day's travel. It is uncertain when New London officially became Snellville, but the location of the partners' store was referred to as Snellville in their advertising, and the young town began to show a promising future.
The partnership later dissolved, and Sawyer kept the old store, building granite stone above and around the old frame and then disassembling the wood frame from within. Snell built a new store of granite. In 1883 Sawyer built a home and married Emma Webb, of the historic Snellville Webb family, on November 15. Sawyer opened Snellville's first post office in 1885 and served as postmaster from the back of his store.
Initially forced into partial retirement due to failing eyesight, Sawyer later lost his sight completely. After that time the store was owned and operated by various merchants. It was eventually destroyed in 1960 and replaced by a service station. James Sawyer died in 1948 at age 91 and is buried in the Baptist Cemetery (now Snellville Historical Cemetery).
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Snellville GA
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Snellville residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Snellville GA.
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