How to Select a Paralegal Program near Tucker Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Tucker GA and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among 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 start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Tucker residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Tucker GA lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing 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 documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably 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 launch your career as a legal assistant in Tucker GA is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Georgia to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 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.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Tucker GA area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency 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 receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Tucker GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, 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 some Tucker GA law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Tucker GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial 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 area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Tucker GA region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Tucker GA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Tucker GA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least 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 considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Tucker GA?
If you live near Tucker 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.
Tucker is a city located in DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. It is located near Atlanta and was originally settled in the 1820s, and later developed as a railroad community in 1892. According to the 2016 United States Census Bureau annual estimate of resident population, it has a population of 35,322. In a November 2015 referendum, by a 3:1 margin (73.94%), voters approved incorporating Tucker into a city. In March 2016, Tucker residents elected the city’s first mayor and city council. 
The 1821 Georgia Land Lottery opened portions of state land for settlement between the Flint and Ocmulgee rivers, including present-day DeKalb County. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation ceded the land to the United States in January of that year, and drawings for lots measuring 202.5 acres (81.9 ha) each began in May in Milledgeville, the state capital until 1868. The land grant fee was $19.00.
In 1821, the area that would become Tucker was in Militia District 572 in Henry County. The state created DeKalb County on December 9, 1822, and District 572 became DeKalb's 18th District, or the Brownings District, reportedly named for Andrew Browning.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Tucker GA
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Tucker home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide 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 program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Tucker GA.
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