How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Albany California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Albany CA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Albany residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Albany CA with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Albany CA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As 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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Albany CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Albany CA.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be a good option for individuals in Albany CA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Albany CA area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn 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 also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching 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, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected 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 targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Albany CA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Albany CA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Albany CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Albany CA local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Albany CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous 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 Albany CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Albany CA?
In 1908, a group of local women protested the dumping of Berkeley garbage in their community. Armed with two shotguns and a twenty-two-caliber rifle, they confronted the drivers of the wagons near what is now the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Buchanan Street. The women told the drivers of the horse-drawn garbage wagons to go home, which they did quickly and without complaint. Shortly thereafter, the residents of the town voted to incorporate as the City of Ocean View. In 1909, voters changed the name of the city, primarily to distinguish the city from the adjacent section of Berkeley which had previously been named Ocean View. On a vote of 38 to 6 the city was renamed in honor of Albany, New York, the birthplace of the city's first mayor, Frank Roberts.
Albany is located on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, bordering the city of Berkeley to the south and east, and the Contra Costa County cities of El Cerrito and Richmond to the north. Albany's northern and southern borders are defined by two creeks, Codornices Creek on the south and Cerrito Creek on the north. Cerrito Creek takes its name from "El Cerrito de San Antonio", now known as Albany Hill. The hill's unusual location near the bay shore makes it a prominent landmark in the East Bay. The rest of the city is relatively flat by Bay Area standards, except for a small area near the base of the Berkeley Hills.
Albany's waterfront has undergone significant man-made changes; the most prominent landform is now the Albany Bulb, a former garbage landfill jutting out into San Francisco Bay. The bulb was the site of a small art colony and shanty town until it was cleared to turn the area into part of the new Eastshore State Park.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Albany had a population of 18,539. As of 2012[update], Albany had a population of 18,969. The population density was 3,392.1 people per square mile (1,309.7/km2). The racial makeup of Albany was 10,128 (54.6%) White, 645 (3.5%) African American, 88 (0.5%) Native American, 5,790 (31.2%) Asian, 37 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 607 (3.3%) from other races, and 1,244 (6.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,891 persons (10.2%).
Select the Right Paralegal School near Albany CA
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Albany home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational 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 schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Albany CA.
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