How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Woodstock Georgia
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Woodstock GA and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Woodstock homes. Of those alternatives, they search 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 qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Georgia Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Woodstock GA attorneys with a wide range 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 firm could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed 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 tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for Woodstock GA attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous Woodstock GA area community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited Woodstock GA area program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent in Woodstock GA and may be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at Woodstock GA area junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important issues to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some 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 School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Woodstock GA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Georgia paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since Woodstock GA employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other Woodstock GA legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Woodstock GA legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Georgia or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area Woodstock GA legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Woodstock GA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Woodstock GA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Program near Woodstock GA
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial 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 attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Woodstock residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Woodstock GA.
More About Woodstock Georgia
Woodstock is a city in Cherokee County, Georgia, United States. The population was 23,896 at the 2010 census. Originally a stop on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Woodstock is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. In 2007 it was the tenth fastest-growing suburb in the United States.
Woodstock is located in southern Cherokee County at 34°6′5″N 84°31′10″W / 34.10139°N 84.51944°W / 34.10139; -84.51944 (34.100731, -84.518972).Interstate 575 passes through the western side of the city, with access from exits 7, 8, and 9. Downtown Atlanta is 30 miles (48 km) to the south, and Canton, the Cherokee County seat, is 11 miles (18 km) north.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Woodstock has a total area of 11.3 square miles (29.2 km2), of which 11.2 square miles (28.9 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.3 km2), or 0.92%, is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 23,896 people, 9,580 households, and 6,137 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,715.4 people per square mile (1043.5/km²). There were 10,298 housing units at an average density of 1170.2 per square mile (449.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.3% White, 10.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 4.5% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.7% of the population.
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