How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Avenal California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Avenal CA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Avenal residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be considered also. Later 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 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 functions, just with different titles. However, 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 attorneys in Avenal CA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Avenal CA paralegal can be involved and quite 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 they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Avenal CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Avenal CA.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those in Avenal CA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Avenal CA area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add 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 commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few 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 School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Avenal CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Avenal CA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 call some law offices that you may have an interest 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 could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Avenal CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Avenal CA local region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Avenal CA. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Avenal CA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Avenal CA?
Avenal is a city in Kings County, California, United States. Avenal is located 35 miles (56 km) southwest of Hanford, at an elevation of 807 ft (246 m). It is part of the Hanford–Corcoran Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA Code 25260), which encompasses all of Kings County. In area, it is the largest city in Kings County. The Zip Code for this community is 93204, and telephone numbers use the sequence (559) 386-XXXX. The population was 15,505 in the 2010 census, which includes inmates at the Avenal State Prison, the first prison actively solicited by a community in the state of California. Many of the remaining residents largely either work at the prison or in the agriculture industry. The prison provides approximately 1,000 jobs to residents. The California Department of Finance estimated that Avenal's population was 13,159 on January 1, 2015. As of that date, Avenal State Prison held 4,165 inmates, which was about 32% of the total population of Avenal. Inmates are counted as city residents by both the United States Census and the California Department of Finance.
The City of Avenal was named by Spanish soldiers and explorers. In Spanish, "avena" means oats, and "avenal" means oatfield. This area was covered with wild oats, "waist high," that looked like golden silk and covered the Kettleman Plains.
Early American settlers arrived in the Kettleman Hills during the 1850s with dreams of raising cattle and farming. Oil, however, would bring fame, fortune and people to the area. Native Americans had always known oil was in the hills, with natural seepage around Coalinga and Tar Canyon. The first Kettleman Hills well was drilled in 1900, followed by countless unproductive efforts.
On March 27, 1927, the Milham Exploration Company began work on Elliot No. 1. The crew toiled for 19 months, drilling past the 7,000-foot (2,100 m) mark. On October 5, 1928, the well blew out with a roar which was heard 20 miles (32 km) away, spewing forth an oil so fine that its color was white, and could reportedly be used unrefined as gasoline in automobiles.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal College near Avenal CA
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Avenal residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Avenal CA.
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