Category Archives: Georgia

Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Winston GA 30187

How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Winston Georgia

Winston GA paralegal consulting with clientCongratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Winston GA and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need 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 on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Winston homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

Legal Assistants and Paralegals

Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Winston GA lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities may include:

  • Investigating and fact checking cases
  • Researching relevant laws and cases
  • Composing correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
  • Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
  • Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records

With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.

Paralegal Programs and Certification

Winston GA paralegal preparing documentsAs we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Winston GA is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Many 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 extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.

What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs

legal library in Winston 30187Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Winston GA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. 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 previously covered, there are other important factors to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.

Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Winston GA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.

What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant 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 caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Winston GA law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.

Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Winston GA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing 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 great relationships with Georgia legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Georgia or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within the Winston GA region.

How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount 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 as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Winston GA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Winston GA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.

Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training

student attending paralegal school online in Winston GAOnline legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address 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 sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.

Will You Attend Paralegal School near Winston GA?

If you live near Winston 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.

Winston, Georgia

The 2004 Presidential Election results in Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 61% Republicans (Bush/Cheney), 38% Democrats (Kerry/Edwards), and 1% Other.[13] The 2008 Presidential Election results in Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 50.41% Democrats (Obama/Biden), 48.58% Republicans (McCain/Palin), 0.76% Libertarians (Barr/Root) and 0.26% Other.[14] The 2010 Senatorial General Election Data for Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 54% (20,056 votes) Republicans (Isakson), 43.7% (16,249 votes) Democrats (Thurmond), and 2.3% (858 votes) Other.[15] The 2010 Gubernatorial General Election results in Douglas County, Georgia were represented by 49.13% (18,425 votes)Republicans (Nathan Deal), 46.99% (17,622 votes) Democrats (Roy E. Barnes), 3.86% (1,448 votes) Libertarians (John H. Monds), and 0.01% (4 votes) Other.[16]

Although the Winston-area historical earthquake activity is significantly below Georgia's state average (It is 97% below the overall U.S. average.), [17] its historical tornado activity is above the state average (It is 135% greater than the overall U.S. average.). [18]

Select the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Winston GA

Choosing the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Winston home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Winston GA.

Other Georgia Locations That May Be Of Interest

  • Paralegal Certificates | How to Become a Paralegal Reynolds GA 31076
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