How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Whitesburg Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Whitesburg GA and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right 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 more and more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Whitesburg residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 for the most part both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Whitesburg GA with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Whitesburg GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Whitesburg GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish 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 as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Whitesburg GA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Whitesburg GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Whitesburg GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can 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 training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Whitesburg GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Whitesburg GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, 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 firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Whitesburg GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication 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’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Whitesburg GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Whitesburg GA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Whitesburg 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 choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Whitesburg GA?
The McIntosh Reserve here is the former plantation of Chief William McIntosh, a prominent leader of the Lower Towns of the Creek Confederacy. He was executed at his home in 1825 on order of the National Council of the Creek Nation for having negotiated and signed the Treaty of Indian Springs that year, which ceded most of the Creek territory in Georgia and Alabama to the United States. The Creek National Council negotiated a new treaty with the United States the next year to gain a more favorable settlement, but most of the Creek were removed to Indian Territory in the 1820s and 1830s.
In the 21st century federally recognized tribes of the Creek include the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Kialegee Tribal Town, and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town of Oklahoma, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km²), of which 2.8 square miles (7.2 km²) is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km²) (1.07%) is water. Whitesburg is located along the Chattahoochee River in southeastern Carroll County.
This area was long occupied by indigenous peoples. In the historic period after European encounter, it was occupied by members of the Creek Confederacy, a loose grouping of related peoples, and was known as the area of the Lower Towns by the early nineteenth century. William McIntosh, a mixed-race leader of the Creek, established a modest house and plantation here. He was executed in 1825 on order of the Creek National Council for having negotiated and signed the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs, which ceded all remaining lands in Georgia and Alabama to the United States. He had violated tribal law, the Code of 1818 that protected communal property.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Whitesburg GA
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Whitesburg residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Whitesburg GA.
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