How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Arvin California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Arvin CA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Arvin residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Arvin CA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Arvin CA paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks 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 are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Arvin CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Arvin CA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for those in Arvin CA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Arvin CA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include 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 already covered, there are other significant issues to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Arvin CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Arvin CA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Arvin CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within your Arvin CA local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Arvin CA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Arvin CA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Arvin CA?
Arvin is a city in Kern County, California. Arvin is located 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Bakersfield, at an elevation of 449 feet (137 m). As of the 2010 census, the population was 19,304, up from 12,956 at the 2000 census.
In 2007, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed Arvin as having the highest levels of smog of any community in the United States. The city's level of ozone, smog's primary component, exceeded the EPA's acceptable limits an average of 73 days per year between 2004 and 2006.
Property sales of lots in present-day Arvin began in 1906. The Arvin Post Office was established in 1914 and the community incorporated as a city in 1960. The city was named after Arvin Richardson, who was the son of one of the original settling families from San Bernardino. Birdie Heard petitioned for the addition of the post office in 1914 and submitted proposed names including Bear Mountain, Walnut, and Arvin. Officials in Washington D.C. chose Arvin as it was the only proposed name which was not already in use in California. Birdie was the city's first postmaster. She set up the post office in her living room originally, but it was later moved to the general store owned by the Staples family. The in-store post office was also the area's first informal library until an official branch of the Kern County Library system was established in 1927.
The Mountain View Oil Field, which underlies the town and much of the surrounding area, was discovered in 1933 and developed extensively in the 1930s. Many oil wells still surround the town; some are slant-drilled to reach formations directly underneath inhabited areas.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Arvin CA
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Arvin home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, 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 programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Arvin CA.
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