How to Choose a Paralegal School near Stone Mountain Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Stone Mountain GA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Stone Mountain residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective 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 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 essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Stone Mountain GA 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 work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Stone Mountain GA paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted 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. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Stone Mountain GA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Stone Mountain GA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and may be a good alternative for individuals in Stone Mountain GA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Stone Mountain GA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly 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 searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Stone Mountain GA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Stone Mountain GA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Stone Mountain GA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly 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 assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within your Stone Mountain GA local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Stone Mountain GA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Stone Mountain GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Stone Mountain GA?
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Stone Mountain is a city in DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The population was 5,802 at the 2010 census. Stone Mountain is located in the eastern part of DeKalb County and is a suburb of Atlanta. It lies near to but does not include the geological formation Stone Mountain.
In 1822, the area that now makes up the city of Stone Mountain was made a part of the newly formed DeKalb County. A post office was created in 1834 on the old Augusta Road, and Andrew Johnson built a hotel along the road in 1836. At around the same time, Aaron Cloud built an observation tower at the summit of the mountain. Visitors to the mountain would travel to the area by rail and road, and then hike up the 1.1-mile (1.8 km) mountaintop trail to the top, where Cloud also had a restaurant and club.
By 1839, a general store was added, and a village was established under the name New Gibraltar. The name was officially changed to Stone Mountain by the Georgia legislature in 1847. The town is named for nearby Stone Mountain. During the Civil War, Stone Mountain village was destroyed by men under the command of General James B. McPherson on July 19, 1864.
The Stone Mountain area's government of police and services is separated into two distinct municipalities. One area is the Downtown or Historic Section. The other area is the greater Stone Mountain area which resides in both DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. The Downtown or Historic section is governed by a local police department, city hall, and mayor. Residents within the city limits of Stone Mountain receive services from the City of Stone Mountain Police Department while the greater Stone Mountain areas receive services from the larger DeKalb County Police department and Gwinnett County Police department; respectively. "There are often misconceptions about crime in the incorporated City and unincorporated areas that are adjacent to the city limits." 
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Stone Mountain GA
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Stone Mountain residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Stone Mountain GA.
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