How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Calabasas California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Calabasas CA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive 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 increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Calabasas residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Calabasas CA with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Calabasas CA paralegal can be involved 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 restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Calabasas CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss 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 Calabasas CA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those in Calabasas CA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Calabasas CA area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Calabasas CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Calabasas CA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Calabasas CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within your Calabasas CA local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Calabasas CA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Calabasas CA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Calabasas CA?
Calabasas is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, located in the hills west of the San Fernando Valley and in the northwest Santa Monica Mountains between Woodland Hills, Agoura Hills, West Hills, Hidden Hills, and Malibu, California. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 23,058, up from 20,033 at the 2000 census. The city was formally incorporated in 1991.
It is generally accepted that the name of Calabasas is derived from the Spanish calabaza meaning "pumpkin", "squash", or "gourd" (cf. calabash). Some historians hold the theory that Calabasas is derived from the Chumash word calahoosa which is said to mean "where the wild geese fly." Owing to vast presence of wild squash plants in the area, the squash theory is more prevalent among local residents. At the top of the Calabasas grade, which is east of Las Virgenes Road on the original El Camino Real, legend has it that in 1824, a Basque rancher from Oxnard spilled a wagonload of pumpkins on the road en route to Los Angeles. The following spring, hundreds of pumpkin seeds sprouted alongside the road. The area was named Las Calabasas—the place where the pumpkins fell.
In honor of its namesake, the City of Calabasas and the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce hold an annual Pumpkin Festival in October, including carnival games, exhibits, demonstrations, and live entertainment. The festival has evolved from a small-town fair to a significant annual event. Though the current Pumpkin Festival is held at Juan Bautista de Anza Park in Calabasas, the original festival was believed to have taken place where the traveling wagon carrying pumpkins overturned and started the area's first pumpkin patch.
The city's official logo, depicting a red-tailed hawk flying over the Santa Monica Mountains, symbolizes a commitment to preserving the community's natural beauty and semirural quality of life. This logo is featured on the Calabasas city flag which is flown in front of City Hall and hangs in the City Council Chambers.
Select the Right Paralegal Training near Calabasas CA
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Calabasas home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Calabasas CA.
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