How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Union City Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Union City GA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Union City homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Union City GA lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, 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 are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, 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 adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially 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 fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Union City GA is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For 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 choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Union City GA area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Union City GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Union City GA law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Union City GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Georgia or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those schools that are within the Union City GA region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, 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 as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Union City GA. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Union City GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Union City GA?
If you live near Union City GA or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Union City, Georgia
The current mayor[when?] is Vince Williams, and council members include: Brian Jones, Angelette Mealing, Christina Hobbs, and Shayla Nealy. The City Manager is LaSonja Filliingame and City Clerk is Shandrella Jewett.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.3 square miles (50.0 km2), of which 19.1 square miles (49.5 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2), or 0.83%, is water.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 19,456 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 81.5% Black, 8.6% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from some other race and 1.6% from two or more races. 7.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Find the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Union City GA
Choosing the right paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Union City residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Union City GA.
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