How to Select a Paralegal School near Tyrone Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Tyrone GA and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Tyrone homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options 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 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 help attorneys in Tyrone GA with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Tyrone GA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Tyrone GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Tyrone GA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for those in Tyrone GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools 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 sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Tyrone GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to think about as well, for instance 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 final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training 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 school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Tyrone GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Tyrone GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick 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 quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Tyrone GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. 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 wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Tyrone GA local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Tyrone GA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Tyrone GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Tyrone GA?
Tyrone is located in the northwest corner of Fayette County at 33°28′25″N 84°35′28″W / 33.47361°N 84.59111°W / 33.47361; -84.59111 (33.473563, -84.591229). It is bordered to the south by Peachtree City and to the west by Coweta County, across Line Creek.
Georgia State Route 74, the Joel Cowan Parkway, passes through Tyrone, leading north 5 miles (8 km) to Interstate 85 on the south side of Fairburn. Downtown Atlanta is 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Tyrone via SR 74 and I-85.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Tyrone has a total area of 12.9 square miles (33.3 km2), of which 12.5 square miles (32.3 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2), or 2.94%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,916 people, 1,374 households, and 1,158 families residing in the town. The population density was 309.6 people per square mile (119.5/km²). There were 1,425 housing units at an average density of 112.7 per square mile (43.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.38% White, 3.37% African American, 0.33% Native American, 1.00% Asian, 0.15% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.46% of the population.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Program near Tyrone GA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Tyrone residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available 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 prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Tyrone GA.
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