How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Camp Pendleton California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Camp Pendleton CA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, 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. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Camp Pendleton homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Camp Pendleton CA with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Camp Pendleton CA paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Camp Pendleton CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Camp Pendleton CA.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be a good option for those in Camp Pendleton CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Camp Pendleton CA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective 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 as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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 Camp Pendleton CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Camp Pendleton CA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what 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 exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Camp Pendleton CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign 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 School’s Location? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish 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 want to work. 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 initially consider those colleges that are within your Camp Pendleton CA local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Camp Pendleton CA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Camp Pendleton CA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Camp Pendleton CA?
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is the major West Coast base of the United States Marine Corps. It is located on the Southern California coast, in San Diego County, and bordered by Oceanside to the south, Cleveland National Forest and Orange County to the north, Riverside County to the northeast, and Fallbrook to the east.
The base was established in 1942 to train U.S. Marines for service in World War II. By October 1944, Camp Pendleton was declared a "permanent installation" and by 1946, it became the home of the 1st Marine Division. It was named after Major General Joseph Henry Pendleton (1860–1942), who had long advocated setting up a training base for the Marine Corps on the west coast. Today it is the home to myriad Operating Force units including the I Marine Expeditionary Force and various training commands.
In 1769, a Spanish expedition led by Captain Gaspar de Portolá explored northward from Loreto, Baja California Sur, seeking to reach Monterey Bay, something never before done overland by Europeans. On July 20 of that year, the expedition arrived in the area now known as Camp Pendleton, and as it was the holy day of St. Margaret, they christened the land in the name of Santa Margarita. The expedition went on to establish military outposts and Franciscan missions at San Diego and Monterey.
During the next 30 years, 21 missions were established, the most productive one being Mission San Luis Rey, just south of the present-day Camp Pendleton. At that time, San Luis Rey Mission had control over the Santa Margarita area.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Program near Camp Pendleton CA
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Camp Pendleton home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Camp Pendleton CA.
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