How to Find a Paralegal Program near Chico California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Chico CA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Chico homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered also. 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 before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options 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 comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, 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 help lawyers in Chico CA with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare 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 Chico CA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Chico CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Chico CA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for students in Chico CA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may 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 academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Chico CA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Chico CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Chico CA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Chico CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success 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 corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Chico CA local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Chico CA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Chico CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Chico CA?
Chico is the most populous city in Butte County, California, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 86,187, reflecting an increase of 26,233 from the 59,954 counted in the 2000 Census. The city is a cultural, economic, and educational center of the northern Sacramento Valley and home to both California State University, Chico and Bidwell Park, the country's 26th largest municipal park and the 13th largest municipally-owned park. Bidwell Park makes up over 17% of the city.
Other cities in close proximity to the Chico Metropolitan Area (population 212,000) include Paradise and Oroville, while local towns and villages (unincorporated areas) include Durham, Cohasset, Dayton, Nord, and Forest Ranch. The Chico Metropolitan Area is the 14th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in California.
The original inhabitants of the area now known as Chico were the Mechoopda Maidu Native Americans. The City of Chico was founded in 1860 by John Bidwell, a member of one of the first wagon trains to reach California in 1843. During the American Civil War, Camp Bidwell (named for John Bidwell, by then a Brigadier General of the California Militia), was established a mile outside Chico, by Lt. Col. A. E. Hooker with a company of cavalry and two of infantry, on August 26, 1863.
By early 1865 it was being referred to as Camp Chico when a post called Camp Bidwell was established in northeast California, later to be Fort Bidwell. The city became incorporated January 8, 1872.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Training near Chico CA
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Chico home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Chico CA.
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