How to Pick a Paralegal College near Agoura Hills California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Agoura Hills CA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Agoura Hills homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine 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 alternatives that are available 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 roles and responsibilities, only 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 lawyers in Agoura Hills CA with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Agoura Hills CA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Agoura Hills CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many 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, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Agoura Hills CA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and can be a good option for students in Agoura Hills CA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Agoura Hills CA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive 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 obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Agoura Hills CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. 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 Agoura Hills CA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, 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 practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give 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 establishing contacts within the Agoura Hills CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools 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 offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those schools that are within your Agoura Hills CA local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Agoura Hills CA. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Agoura Hills CA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Agoura Hills CA?
Agoura Hills, California
Agoura Hills (/əˈɡɒrə/ ( listen)) is a city in Los Angeles County, California. Its population was estimated to be at 20,843 in 2014, up from 20,537 at the 2000 census. It is in the eastern Conejo Valley between the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains. The city is on the border between the county of Los Angeles to the east and south, and Ventura County to the north and west. It is about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Downtown Los Angeles and less than 10 miles (16 km) west of the Los Angeles city limits (Woodland Hills). Agoura Hills and unincorporated Agoura sit next to Calabasas, Oak Park, and Westlake Village.
The area was first settled by the Chumash Native Americans around 10,000 years ago. As the Alta California (Upper California) coast was settled by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the late 18th century, the El Camino Real (the Royal Road or King's Highway), a road from Loreto, Baja California, Mexico to Sonoma, California, and connecting the Spanish missions in California, was established through the heart of what would later be known as Agoura Hills.
In about 1800, Miguel Ortega was granted a Spanish grazing concession called Rancho Las Virgenes or El Rancho de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Las Virgenes. The grant was abandoned after Ortega's death in 1810, and José Maria Dominguez was given Rancho Las Virgenes as a Mexican land grant in 1834. Maria Antonia Machado de Reyes purchased the rancho from Dominguez in 1845. (The "Reyes Adobe" ranch headquarters sits today in central Agoura Hills, where it is part of the Reyes Adobe Museum built around 2004 and owned by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department.)
By 1900, Agoura Hills was being used as a popular stage stop for travelers along the Camino Real because of its natural spring at the foothills of Ladyface Mountain, one of Agoura Hills' defining geographic features.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Training near Agoura Hills CA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Agoura Hills residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Agoura Hills CA.
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