How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Statesboro Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Statesboro GA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Statesboro residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options 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 hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Statesboro 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 duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Statesboro GA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more suited 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Statesboro GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Statesboro GA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for students in Statesboro GA searching 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 classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum 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 thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Statesboro GA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Statesboro GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Statesboro GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including 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 be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Statesboro GA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Statesboro GA local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Statesboro GA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Statesboro 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 select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Statesboro GA?
A college town, Statesboro is home to the flagship campus of Georgia Southern University and is part of the Savannah–Hinesville–Statesboro Combined Statistical Area.  As of 2016, the Statesboro Micropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of Bulloch County, had an estimated population of 74,722. The city had an estimated 2016 population of 31,419. Statesboro is the largest Micropolitan Statistical Area in Georgia. It is largest city in the Magnolia Midlands Region.
The city was chartered in 1803, starting as a small trading community providing the basic essentials for surrounding cotton plantations. This drove the economy throughout the 19th century, both before and after the U.S. Civil War.
In 2017, Statesboro was selected in the top 3 of the national America's Best Communities competition and was named one of nine Georgia "live, work, play" cities by the Georgia Municipal Association.
In 1801, George Sibbald of Augusta donated a 9,301-acre (37.64 km2) tract for a centrally located county seat for the growing agricultural community of Bulloch County. The area was developed by white planters largely for cotton plantations that were worked by slave labor. In December 1803, the Georgia legislature created the town of Statesborough. In 1866 the state legislature granted a permanent charter to the city, changing the spelling of its name to the present "Statesboro."
Select the Right Paralegal School near Statesboro GA
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Statesboro home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Statesboro GA.
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