How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Sylvania Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Sylvania GA and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Sylvania homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Sylvania GA with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Sylvania GA paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Sylvania GA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Sylvania GA.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals in Sylvania GA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Sylvania GA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects 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 researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in 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 distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Sylvania GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Sylvania 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 quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school 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 confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Sylvania GA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Sylvania GA local region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Sylvania GA. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Sylvania 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 choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Sylvania GA?
The area was inhabited for thousands of years by various cultures of indigenous peoples. By the time of European encounter, it was occupied by the Yuchi peoples, but some Creeks, the Uchee's allies, moved into the area during Colonial times.
The European-American town of Sylvania was founded in 1790 by settlers' migrating to the area after the American Revolutionary War. The town took its name from the Latin term for "place in the woods."
Sylvania was part of the Black Belt of Georgia, developed for cultivation after the cotton gin made it easier to handle short-fiber cotton. Cotton was the most important commodity crop until late in the 19th century. Planters imported many enslaved African Americans to cultivate the crops. By 1830 the county was filled with people. The county seat was moved from Jacksonborough to Sylvania in 1847.
As part of the projects of the Works Progress Administration, federally commissioned murals were produced from 1934 to 1943 in the United States through the Section of Painting and Sculpture, later called the Section of Fine Arts, of the Treasury Department. In 1941, Caroline Speare Rohland painted a mural for the post office of Sylvania. The scene depicted was of a farming family and their African American farm hand. In the 1980s, complaints from the local NAACP chapter resulted in the removal of the mural. It was found in a closet of the post office in 1995 and restored. The mural is now on permanent loan from the federal government and is held by Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.
Find the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Sylvania GA
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward 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 attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Sylvania home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Sylvania GA.
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