How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Big Pine California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Big Pine CA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Big Pine residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available 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 responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Big Pine CA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- 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 role of a Big Pine CA paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Big Pine CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Big Pine CA.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Big Pine CA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Big Pine CA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Big Pine CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Big Pine CA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Big Pine CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire 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 live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your Big Pine CA local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, 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 also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Big Pine CA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Big Pine CA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Big Pine CA?
Big Pine, California
Big Pine (formerly, Bigpine) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Inyo County, California, United States. Big Pine is located approximately 15 miles (24 km) south-southeast of Bishop, at an elevation of 3,989 feet (1,216 m). The population was 1,756 at the 2010 census, up from 1,350 at the 2000 census. The Big Pine Band of Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Indians of the Big Pine Reservation operates their tribal headquarters from here.
Big Pine is located in the Owens Valley of California between the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains, just west of the Owens River upstream of its diversion into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. It lies on U.S. Route 395, the main north-south artery through the Owens Valley, connecting the Inland Empire to Reno, Nevada. US 395 also connects Big Pine to Los Angeles via State Route 14 through Palmdale.
To the East, CA route 168 crosses the White Mountains over Westgard Pass to the basin and range province of Nevada, while Death Valley Road leads to Death Valley. The plaque beneath the young giant sequoia (pictured) at the road junction says it was planted in 1913 to commemorate the opening of Westgaard Pass to auto traffic. North from Westgaard Pass lies the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to the oldest trees in the world.
Matt Williams, a professional baseball player and manager, lived there for part of his life. Hollywood character actor Elisha Cook, Jr., known for such classic films as The Maltese Falcon and Shane, had a home in Big Pine and died here in 1995.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Training near Big Pine CA
Choosing the right paralegal degree 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 on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Big Pine home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Big Pine CA.
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