Find Paralegal Certificate Schools near Bell Gardens CA 90202

How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Bell Gardens California

Bell Gardens CA paralegal working with attorneyCongratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Bell Gardens CA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Bell Gardens residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?

Bell Gardens CA law libraryParalegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Bell Gardens CA with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can involve:

  • Researching and fact checking cases
  • Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
  • Preparing correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
  • Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
  • Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records

With all of their duties, the job of a Bell Gardens CA paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.

Paralegal Training and Certification

law books and Bell Gardens CA judge's gavelAs we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Bell Gardens CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Bell Gardens CA.

Online Paralegal Programs

attending paralegal school online in Bell Gardens CAParalegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those in Bell Gardens CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.

What to Ask Paralegal Colleges

Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Bell Gardens CA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree 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 already covered, there are other critical aspects to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.

Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain 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 future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Bell Gardens CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.

What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Bell Gardens CA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Bell Gardens CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.

Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Bell Gardens CA local area.

What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Bell Gardens CA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Bell Gardens CA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Considering Paralegal School in Bell Gardens CA?

Bell Gardens, California

Bell Gardens is notable for being one of only six Los Angeles County cities (out of 88 total) to permit casino gambling (the others being Inglewood, Gardena, Commerce, Compton, and Hawaiian Gardens). Dice games and slot machines are forbidden by state law.

The city of Bell Gardens has a Native American history dating back thousands of years. In the late 18th century, when the area was associated with a large amount of land situated along the lower basin of the Rio Hondo area in Los Angeles County, Bell Gardens was once a bustling agricultural center for Californios during the Spanish Empire, 1509–1823, the Mexican government, 1823–1848, and the United States, after the Mexican-American war concluded in 1848.

Among those early Spanish settlers was one of California’s first families, the Lugos. While stationed at Mission San Antonio de Padua near Salinas, California, Francisco Lugo’s son Antonio Maria Lugo was born in 1783. In 1810 Antonio Lugo, a 35-year-old corporal in the Spanish army, was given the 29,514-acre (119.44 km2) Rancho San Antonio land grant. The land grant was a reward for his military service during the establishment of the Franciscan Missions in California while being the attendant of colonization for the area. Today the grant includes the cities of Bell Gardens, Bell, Maywood, Vernon, Huntington Park, Walnut Park, Cudahy, South Gate, Lynwood and Commerce.

Antonio Lugo built several adobe homes within the boundaries of the Rancho San Antonio grant, and raised cattle. One of the adobe houses, built in 1795, is the oldest house in Los Angeles County and is still standing at 7000 Gage Avenue. Lugo was given a term as Mayor of Los Angeles. According to Dr. Roy Whitehead in his book Lugo, "Don Antonio Maria Lugo…rode around Los Angeles and his Rancho San Antonio in great splendor. He never adopted American dress, culture or language and still spoke only Spanish. He rode magnificent horses, sitting in his $1,500 silver trimmed saddle erect and stately, with his sword strapped to the saddle beneath his left leg…People knew him far and wide, and even the Indians sometimes named their children after him, as he was one Spanish Don that they admired." Antonio María Lugo died at the age of 85 in 1860.

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Choose the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Bell Gardens CA

Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Bell Gardens residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Bell Gardens CA.

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