How to Select a Paralegal School near Alviso California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Alviso CA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Alviso residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take 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 essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Alviso CA with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Alviso CA paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide 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 truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Alviso CA as a paralegal 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 two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Alviso CA.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for those in Alviso CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain 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 obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Alviso CA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to research as well, for instance 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 properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Alviso CA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Alviso CA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Alviso CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within your Alviso CA local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Alviso CA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Alviso CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Alviso CA?
Alviso, San Jose
Alviso is a neighborhood in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California, and until 1968, it was an independent city of the same name. It is at the north end of San José where it meets the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and borders the cities of Milpitas, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara.
The Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek both end at Alviso, emptying into the Bay through Alviso Slough and Mud Slough. Alviso is the lowest point in the San Francisco Bay Area at 13 feet (4.0 m) below sea level. Throughout the 20th Century, Alviso has been victim to severe flooding most recently in 1983 and 1995.
Alviso was first settled in the 18th century. The community was named for Ignacio Alviso, the son of Corporal Domingo Alviso, one of the original members of the de Anza expedition. Corporal Alviso lived but a short time after reaching San Francisco and was buried March 11, 1777 Alviso's descendants were granted the Rancho Rincon de Los Esteros holding. In 1840, his descendant of the same name, Ignacio Alviso, moved from Mission Santa Clara de Asís to this 3,653 acres (14.78 km2) ranchero. From this port, beaver pelts, cattle hides and tallow went to San Francisco.
The city of Alviso was incorporated on March 4, 1852, as the boating and shipping port of San José and the transportation hub for the Santa Clara Valley to the San Francisco Bay. Steamboats traveled regularly between San Francisco and Alviso. That usage declined with the growth in railroad transportation between San Francisco and San José. In 1864 Alviso was bypassed by the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad, (later part of the Southern Pacific Railroad). However, in the 1880s Alviso was a stop on the Newark line of Southern Pacific Railroad between San José and Oakland.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Alviso CA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Alviso residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various types 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 choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide 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 school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Alviso CA.
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