How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Cedar Glen California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Cedar Glen CA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Cedar Glen homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly 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 basically both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Cedar Glen CA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific 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 may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Cedar Glen CA paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really 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 number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training 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 quickest means to launch your career in Cedar Glen CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two 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 acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Cedar Glen CA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals in Cedar Glen CA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of assessing Cedar Glen CA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Cedar Glen CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Cedar Glen CA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select 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 quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Cedar Glen CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those colleges that are within your Cedar Glen CA local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Cedar Glen CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Cedar Glen CA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Cedar Glen CA?
Cedar Glen, California
As of the census of 2000, there were 552 people and 590 housing units. The racial makeup of the CDP was 86.6% White, <0.1% African American, <0.1% Native American, 9.2% Asian, 4.2% Pacific Islander, <0.1% from other races, and <0.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were <0.1% of the population.
Select the Right Paralegal School near Cedar Glen CA
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding 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 Cedar Glen residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Cedar Glen CA.
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