How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Ceres California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ceres CA and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Ceres residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have 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 essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Ceres CA with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, 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 help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Ceres CA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Ceres CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Ceres CA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals in Ceres CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Ceres 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 in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable 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 targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Ceres CA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Ceres CA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming 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 confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Ceres CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish 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 want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Ceres CA local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Ceres CA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Ceres CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Ceres CA?
The newspaper in Ceres is called The Ceres Courier. It has been in publication since 1910. The offices of the Ceres Courier were relocated from an address in downtown Ceres in 2012. It has since combined day-to-day operations with its sister paper, The Turlock Journal, in Turlock, CA . Jeff Benziger was appointed Editor in 1987. There is also a Spanish-language paper.
Ceres hosts annual events at different times of the year. Spring brings the Ceres Street Faire on the first weekend in May. Concert in the Park is a regular summer event. Halloween Fun Festival marks the Fall followed by the colorful, and much-attended, Christmas Tree Lane opening ceremony.
The first non-native families that inhabited Ceres were those of John Service, Cassius Warner, and Daniel Whitmore in the year 1867. Daniel C. Whitmore is considered the first family and founder of Ceres. He built his home in 1870, the Whitmore Mansion at 2928 5th Street. That home still stands, fully restored by the city and the Ceres Historical Society.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Ceres has a total area of 8.0 sq mi(20.8 km²), 99.9% of it land and 0.1% of it water. The formation of alluvial fans in the San Joaquin Valley has led to a rather flat regional geography. There are no known active earthquake fault traces in the project vicinity. (Earth Metrics, 1989) Hydrological feature mapping of the Ceres area has been conducted by the U. S. Geological Survey. (USGS, 2003)
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal College near Ceres CA
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Ceres home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to 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 programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Ceres CA.
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