How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Statham Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Statham GA and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Statham residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered 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 functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Statham GA with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Statham GA paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Statham GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Statham GA.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those in Statham GA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater 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 reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Statham GA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. 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 previously covered, there are other significant factors to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Statham GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Statham GA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as 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 be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Statham GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. 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 a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community 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 might need to initially look at those schools that are within your Statham GA local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Statham GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Statham GA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Statham GA?
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2), of which 3.5 square miles (9.1 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2), or 1.08%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,040 people, 731 households, and 551 families residing in the city. The population density was 577.9 people per square mile (223.1/km²). There were 774 housing units at an average density of 219.3 per square mile (84.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.35% White, 14.66% African American, 0.69% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.83% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.30% of the population.
There were 731 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.6% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.7% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Statham GA
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Statham residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, 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 profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Statham GA.
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