How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Stockbridge Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Stockbridge GA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices 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 searching for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Stockbridge homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Stockbridge GA with a wide range 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 practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Stockbridge GA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Stockbridge GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 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 earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, 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 improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Stockbridge GA.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for students in Stockbridge GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Stockbridge GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential 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 significant factors to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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. A number of Stockbridge GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Stockbridge GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Stockbridge GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose 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 need to initially investigate those schools that are within your Stockbridge GA local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Stockbridge GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Stockbridge GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Stockbridge GA?
The area was settled in 1829 when Concord Methodist Church was organized near present-day Old Stagecoach Road. It was granted a post office on April 5, 1847, named for a traveling professor, Levi Stockbridge, who passed through the area many times before the post office was built. He was said to be well known and respected in his namesake community. Others contend that the city was named after Thomas Stock, who was State Surveyor and president of the Georgia State Senate in the 1820s.
In 1881, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad was to pass through Stockbridge between Macon and Atlanta. The settlers who owned the land about Old Stockbridge asked such a high price for their land that two prominent Atlanta citizens, John W. Grant and George W. Adair, bought a tract about a mile south of Old Stockbridge and offered lots at a reasonable price. Here the railroad built their depot and many lots were sold. The depot was located about 600 feet (180 m) north of what is now North Henry Blvd but was destroyed by the Southern Railway in the early 1980s.
On May 6, 1992, Mayor Rudy Kelley received a letter from John Stockbridge of South Carolina requesting a letter of "Greeting" from the City of Stockbridge to the attendees of the first reunion of the Stockbridge family. In his letter, he mentioned that he grew up in Georgia and had been told as a child that the city of Stockbridge was named after his great-great-grandfather Levi Stockbridge, who had traveled back and forth from the North to his property in Florida and stopped here on his journey.
It is not certain that Levi Stockbridge was the individual for whom the citizens of the community named their post office and village. However, through John Stockbridge's letters and many conversations with him, it is believed that this is the rightful Professor Stockbridge who had been unknown for 146 years.
Find the Right Paralegal College near Stockbridge GA
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Stockbridge home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Stockbridge GA.
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