How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Ben Lomond California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Ben Lomond 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 get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Ben Lomond homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, 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 fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Ben Lomond CA with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Ben Lomond CA paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Ben Lomond CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Ben Lomond CA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for those in Ben Lomond CA looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may 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 training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable 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 certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Ben Lomond CA area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Ben Lomond CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Ben Lomond CA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Ben Lomond CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer 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 field can be challenging without assistance. Ask 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 indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those schools that are within your Ben Lomond CA local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ 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 education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Ben Lomond 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 Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Ben Lomond 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 enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Ben Lomond CA?
Ben Lomond, California
The mountain was named by John Burns, a Scot who settled on the west side of the ridge in 1851. Burns named the mountain after one in Scotland. Ben Lomond means "beacon peak" in Gaelic. Burns became one of the first vintners in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and is usually also credited with naming the community of Bonny Doon. The San Lorenzo River watershed contains extensive forests of Coast redwood, and was an early center of the logging/lumber industry in Santa Cruz County. The community was originally known as Pacific Mills, after a sawmill operation located there. When, in 1887, the community applied for a U.S. Post Office, residents voted to adopt the name of the mountain.
Ben Lomond is located on State Highway 9, about 12 miles from Santa Cruz, California and 34 miles from San Jose, California (the nearest major city) at 37°5′24″N 122°5′24″W / 37.09000°N 122.09000°W / 37.09000; -122.09000 (37.09, -122.09). According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 8.4 square miles (22 km2). The San Lorenzo River runs through it, in what is known locally as the San Lorenzo Valley, which runs SE/NW to the east of Ben Lomond Mountain (really a long ridge whose highest point has an elevation of 810m/2660 ft).
The National Weather Service has kept weather records for Ben Lomond since 1937. The Western Climate Center reports that Ben Lomond has an average annual rainfall of 49.00 inches and an average annual snowfall of 0.2 inch. January is the coldest month with a normal maximum of 61.5 °F (16.4 °C) and a normal minimum of 36.9 °F (2.7 °C). August is the warmest month with a normal maximum of 85.5 °F (29.7 °C) and a normal minimum of 50.4 °F (10.2 °C).
The record high temperature was 112 °F (44 °C) on October 8, 1996, and July 22, 2006, and the record low temperature was 15 °F (−9 °C) on December 22, 1990. There are an average of 39.2 days annually with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and 34.8 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower.
Choose the Best Paralegal Program near Ben Lomond CA
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Ben Lomond residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Ben Lomond CA.
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