How to Choose a Paralegal School near Capitola California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Capitola CA and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Capitola homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered too. Later in this post we will cover 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 before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Capitola CA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Capitola CA paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, 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 clerical or administrative functions more suited 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, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Capitola CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Capitola CA.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for students in Capitola CA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Capitola CA area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Capitola CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Capitola CA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Capitola CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult 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 a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within your Capitola CA local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Capitola CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Capitola CA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Capitola CA?
The original settlement now known as Capitola grew out of what was then called Soquel Landing. Soquel Landing got its name from a wharf located at the mouth of Soquel Creek. This wharf, which dates back to the 1850s, served as an outlet for the produce and lumber grown in the interior. In 1865, Captain John Pope Davenport, a whaleman at Monterey, moved his operations to be near the wharf. Unable to capture any whales, he moved his operations the following year to Point Año Nuevo.
In 1869, Frederick A. Hihn, who owned the property in the vicinity of the wharf, decided to develop it as a seaside resort. At first he leased the area to Samuel A. Hall and the area became known as Camp Capitola. Most authorities believe that it was Hihn who chose the name of Capitola, but they are unsure as to why he did so. Several possibilities have been asserted, one being that it was named for the heroine of The Hidden Hand, a novel by the popular author E.D.E.N. Southworth, favored by Hall's daughter Lulu. Capitola is known as the oldest beach resort on the West Coast.
Capitola sits on the northeast shore of Monterey Bay. Steep cliffs mark access to several popular beaches, including New Brighton Beach, or drop directly to the rocky shoreline of the bay. Downtown Capitola sits in a depression among the cliffs so that the popular tourist and shopping area leads directly to Capitola Beach. Colorful houses and hotels line the slopes of the town leading back up to the clifftops.
There have been a number of historic fuel releases to the soil in Capitola; among these the following locations have been identified by the County of Santa Cruz or the California Regional Water Quality Control Board: 819 Bay Avenue, 1649 41st Avenue, 2210 41st Avenue and 1700 41st Avenue.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Capitola CA
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Capitola residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Capitola CA.
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