How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Winston Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Winston GA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Winston residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will cover 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 first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, 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 lawyers in Winston GA with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to 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 day-to-day activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Winston GA paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed 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 functions more apropos 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 manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Winston GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Winston GA.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for students in Winston GA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Winston GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over 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 and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Winston GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Winston GA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Winston GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large 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? Since laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Winston GA local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Winston GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Winston GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Winston GA?
The 2004 Presidential Election results in Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 61% Republicans (Bush/Cheney), 38% Democrats (Kerry/Edwards), and 1% Other. The 2008 Presidential Election results in Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 50.41% Democrats (Obama/Biden), 48.58% Republicans (McCain/Palin), 0.76% Libertarians (Barr/Root) and 0.26% Other. The 2010 Senatorial General Election Data for Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 54% (20,056 votes) Republicans (Isakson), 43.7% (16,249 votes) Democrats (Thurmond), and 2.3% (858 votes) Other. The 2010 Gubernatorial General Election results in Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 49.13% (18,425 votes)Republicans (Nathan Deal), 46.99% (17,622 votes) Democrats (Roy E. Barnes), 3.86% (1,448 votes) Libertarians (John H. Monds), and 0.01% (4 votes) Other.
Although the Winston-area historical earthquake activity is significantly below Georgia's state average (It is 97% below the overall U.S. average.),  its historical tornado activity is above the state average (It is 135% greater than the overall U.S. average.). 
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Winston GA
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Winston home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available 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 profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Winston GA.
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