How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Cloverdale California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Cloverdale CA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Cloverdale homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, 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 Cloverdale CA with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Cloverdale CA paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Cloverdale CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Cloverdale CA.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for students in Cloverdale CA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Cloverdale CA area schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Cloverdale CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Cloverdale CA paralegal programs 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 education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Cloverdale CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those schools that are within your Cloverdale CA local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Cloverdale CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Cloverdale CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Cloverdale CA?
Cloverdale is a city in Sonoma County, California, United States. The San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad reached Cloverdale in 1872. The Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California is headquartered here. The population was 8,618 at the 2010 census.
Cloverdale began as an early stagecoach stop, known as Markleville, on the Rancho Rincon de Musalacon Mexican grant. In 1856, R.B. Markle and W.J. Miller bought 759 acres (3.1 km2), which included the present site of the town, from Johnson Horrell. In 1859, James Abram Kleiser bought Markle's interest, and the town was laid out. The town was incorporated when the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad arrived in 1872. By 1878, the railroad service provided three trains a day between Cloverdale and Ferries of San Francisco Bay.
In 1881, Jules Leroux and Armand Dehay established a colony south of Cloverdale named "Icaria Speranza", based on the French Utopian movement, the Icarians. The settlement ended in 1886 and today, there is a marker south of town where the schoolhouse was located.
Cloverdale suffered severe economic hardship, losing 500 to 600 manufacturing jobs between 1988 and 1994, with the closing of a fire equipment factory and the shrinking of the logging industry. In 1993, 300 jobs were eliminated alone when Louisiana-Pacific closed its lumber mill. In 1994, Highway 101, which formerly bisected the town, was rerouted around town with a by-pass. Some businesses closed, and many natives believed the bypass radically changed the town's character.
Find the Right Paralegal School near Cloverdale CA
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Cloverdale residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to 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 wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cloverdale CA.
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