How to Select a Paralegal College near Springfield Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Springfield GA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Springfield homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration too. 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 each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Springfield GA with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Springfield GA paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number 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 arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Springfield GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Springfield GA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for individuals in Springfield GA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Springfield GA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Springfield GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Springfield GA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Springfield GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire 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 may need to initially look at those schools that are within your Springfield GA local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Springfield GA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Springfield GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Springfield GA?
Springfield is a city in Effingham County, Georgia, United States. The population was 2,852 at the 2010 census, up from 1,821 in 2000. The city is the county seat of Effingham County. Springfield is part of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Springfield is the seat of government for Effingham County.Ebenezer was the county seat from 1797 to 1799. In 1799, Effingham County had three different county seats. The state legislature appointed a commission to select a new centrally located site for the permanent county seat. A location five miles from the center of the county was chosen and named Springfield, for the plantation of General David Blackshear.
The county government surveyed the new town, and designated streets, lots, and the public squares that were to be used for the courthouse and the jail. The lots were sold to finance the construction of these public buildings. A map drawn in 1821 shows four north–south streets and nine east–west streets. Development of the new county seat was slow, as it was isolated from customary routes of trade. At the turn of the 20th century, it was listed as having only about twelve houses.
A 1907 map showed the railroad had come to town, an impetus for growth. Four new east–west streets had been added, as well as several new north–south streets. This period saw the greatest growth in Springfield. The Brinson Railroad from Savannah was built about 1907, as was the George M. Brinson Sawmill. In 1908 a new county courthouse was constructed. In the decade from 1900 to 1910, the population of Springfield increased to 500 from 134.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal College near Springfield GA
Choosing the right paralegal educational 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 choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Springfield home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Springfield GA.
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