How to Choose a Paralegal College near Washington Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Washington GA and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Washington homes. Of those options, they search 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 need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices 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 the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Washington GA with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Washington GA paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Washington GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career 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 earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Washington GA.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for individuals in Washington GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Washington GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about also, 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 final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Washington GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Washington GA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Washington GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those colleges that are within your Washington GA local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Washington GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Washington GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Washington GA?
Washington (formerly known as Heard's Fort) is a city in Wilkes County, Georgia, United States. The population was 4,295 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Wilkes County. The city is often referred to as Washington-Wilkes by local residents, to distinguish it from other places named "Washington" in the U.S.
Several historic sites in Washington are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Wilkes County Courthouse, the Robert Toombs House State Historic Site, the Washington-Wilkes Historical Museum, the Mary Willis Public Library, and the recently restored historic Fitzpatrick Hotel, built in 1898.
The Battle of Kettle Creek, one of the most important battles of the American Revolutionary War to be fought in Georgia, was fought on February 14, 1779, in Wilkes County, about eight miles (13 km) from present day Washington. The battle resulted in a victory for the American Patriots who took 75 prisoners, and killed roughly 70 Loyalists, while losing 32 men.
Although no major battles of the Civil War were fought in or near Washington, the city has the distinction of being the location where Jefferson Davis held the last meeting with the Confederate cabinet. On April 3, 1865, with Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant poised to capture Richmond, Jefferson Davis escaped for Danville, Virginia, together with the Confederate cabinet. After leaving Danville, and continuing south, Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865 in Washington, along with a hand-picked escort led by Given Campbell, including his personal Body Guard Sgt. Joseph A Higgenbotham, Jr., of Amherst/Nelson County, Virginia. The meeting took place at the Heard house (the Georgia Branch Bank Building), with fourteen officials present.
Find the Best Paralegal Program near Washington GA
Selecting the right paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Washington residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Washington GA.
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