How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Young Harris Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Young Harris GA and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Young Harris homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Young Harris GA with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Young Harris GA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 launch your career in Young Harris GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might 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 improve your career opportunities, but help establish 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 discuss 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 Young Harris GA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals in Young Harris GA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss 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 reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing Young Harris GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Young Harris GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Young Harris GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law firms that you may have an interest 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 Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Young Harris GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within your Young Harris GA local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Young Harris GA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Young Harris GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Young Harris GA?
Young Harris, Georgia
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 899 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 90.9% White, 2.6% Black, 0.4% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% from some other race and 0.8% from two or more races. 4.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the census of 2000, there were 604 people, 112 households, and 74 families residing in the city. The population density was 591.2 people per square mile (228.6/km²). There were 134 housing units at an average density of 131.2 per square mile (50.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.52% White, 1.66% African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.50% Asian, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.83% of the population.
There were 112 households out of which 21.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.4% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.74.
In the city the population was spread out with 8.6% under the age of 18, 62.6% from 18 to 24, 8.9% from 25 to 44, 11.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 20 years. For every 100 females, there were 69.69 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 67.3 males.
Select the Right Paralegal Training near Young Harris GA
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Young Harris residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including 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 career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Young Harris GA.
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