How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Citrus Heights California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Citrus Heights CA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Citrus Heights homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. 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 hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Citrus Heights CA with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready 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 Citrus Heights CA paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Citrus Heights CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Citrus Heights CA.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those in Citrus Heights CA looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing Citrus Heights CA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively 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 program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Citrus Heights CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Citrus Heights CA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Citrus Heights CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within your Citrus Heights CA local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Citrus Heights CA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Citrus Heights 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 select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Citrus Heights CA?
Citrus Heights, California
Citrus Heights is located at 38°42′N 121°17′W / 38.700°N 121.283°W / 38.700; -121.283 (38.6947, -121.2905). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.2 square miles (37 km2), all land. The city incorporated January 2, 1997 (January 1 according to the official city website), becoming the fifth city in Sacramento County.
The 2015 United States Census reported that Citrus Heights had a population of 87,056. The population density in 2010 was 5,854.6 people per square mile (2,260.5/km²) but no updated information for the current year has been presented. The racial makeup of Citrus Heights in 2010 was 66,856 (80.3%) White, 2,751 (3.3%) African American, 753 (0.9%) Native American, 2,714 (3.3%) Asian (1.2% Filipino, 0.4% Indian, 0.4% Chinese, 0.3% Japanese, 0.2% Vietnamese, 0.4% Other), 363 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 5,348 (6.4%) from other races, and 4,516 (5.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13,734 persons (16.5%).
The Census reported that 82,815 people (99.4% of the population) lived in households, 304 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 182 (0.2%) were institutionalized. In 2015 The Census reports that there is about 2.56 persons per household and 79.5% of people are living in the same house that they were living in the year prior. The 2015 Census also reports that 19% of the Citrus Heights population is speaking another language other than English at home.
According to the Sacramento Bee in February 2008, within the city limits are 34,295 housing units. The city's vacancy rate is approximately four percent. 65% of the city's housing units are primarily single-family units. The annual median sales price (for all recorded sales) of homes in the 95610 zip code is $299,009, and the median sales price (for all recorded sales) of homes in the 95621 zip code is $261,826.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Program near Citrus Heights CA
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Citrus Heights home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous 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 vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Citrus Heights CA.
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