How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Zebulon Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Zebulon GA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Zebulon homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational 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 comparable job positions and functions, only 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 lawyers in Zebulon GA with a wide range 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 practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’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 responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Zebulon GA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. 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 proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically 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 way to begin your career in Zebulon GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can 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. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Zebulon GA.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be a good option for those in Zebulon GA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater 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 program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Zebulon GA area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade 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 also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Zebulon GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Zebulon GA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program 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 contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Zebulon GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Zebulon GA local region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Zebulon GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Zebulon GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Zebulon GA?
Zebulon is a city in Pike County, Georgia, United States. The population was 1,181 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Pike County. The city and county were named after explorer Zebulon Pike.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.5 square miles (9.2 km²), of which 3.5 square miles (9.0 km²) is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km²) (1.13%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,181 people, 464 households, and 324 families residing in the city. The population density was 338.0 people per square mile (130.7/km²). There were 499 housing units at an average density of 142.8 per square mile (55.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.12% White, 36.92% African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.27% Asian, 0.68% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.95% of the population.
There were 464 households out of which 36.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 22.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.06.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Zebulon GA
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Zebulon residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Zebulon GA.
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