How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Whitesburg Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Whitesburg GA and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession 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 one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Whitesburg homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Whitesburg GA attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Whitesburg GA is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Whitesburg GA area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out 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 as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable 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 training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Whitesburg GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Whitesburg GA law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Whitesburg GA legal community. 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 Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Georgia or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Whitesburg GA area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Whitesburg GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Whitesburg GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online 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 quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Whitesburg GA?
If you live near Whitesburg Georgia or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The McIntosh Reserve here is the former plantation of Chief William McIntosh, a prominent leader of the Lower Towns of the Creek Confederacy. He was executed at his home in 1825 on order of the National Council of the Creek Nation for having negotiated and signed the Treaty of Indian Springs that year, which ceded most of the Creek territory in Georgia and Alabama to the United States. The Creek National Council negotiated a new treaty with the United States the next year to gain a more favorable settlement, but most of the Creek were removed to Indian Territory in the 1820s and 1830s.
In the 21st century federally recognized tribes of the Creek include the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Kialegee Tribal Town, and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town of Oklahoma, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km²), of which 2.8 square miles (7.2 km²) is land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km²) (1.07%) is water. Whitesburg is located along the Chattahoochee River in southeastern Carroll County.
Paralegal Programs Whitesburg GA
Choosing the best legal assistant certificate program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Programs. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Whitesburg home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Whitesburg GA.
Other Georgia Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 17