How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Tallapoosa Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Tallapoosa GA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Tallapoosa residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at 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 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 paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Tallapoosa GA with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Tallapoosa GA paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 start your career in Tallapoosa GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 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 Tallapoosa GA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for those in Tallapoosa GA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Tallapoosa GA area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include 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 already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. 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. Many Tallapoosa GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Tallapoosa GA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Tallapoosa GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop 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 want to work. 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 consider those schools that are within your Tallapoosa GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Tallapoosa GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Tallapoosa GA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Tallapoosa GA?
Tallapoosa, incorporated in 1860, is located in Haralson County, in northwest Georgia, approximately 55 miles (89 km) west of Atlanta, 4 miles (6 km) north of Interstate 20, and 4 miles east of the Alabama state line. Its geographic coordinates are 33°45′N 85°17′W / 33.750°N 85.283°W / 33.750; -85.283 (33.7437, -85.2879).
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,789 people, 1,187 households, and 764 families residing in the city. The population density was 375.6 people per square mile (144.9/km²). There were 1,334 housing units at an average density of 179.7 per square mile (69.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.18% White, 6.63% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.90% Asian, 0.07% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.32% of the population.
There were 1,187 households out of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city, the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.6 males.
Choose the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Tallapoosa GA
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Tallapoosa home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact 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 succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Tallapoosa GA.
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