How to Find a Paralegal College near Clovis California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Clovis CA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Clovis residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options 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 fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only 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 assist attorneys in Clovis CA with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Clovis CA paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer 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 truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 quickest way to start your career in Clovis CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Clovis CA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for students in Clovis CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing Clovis CA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as 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 include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important aspects to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Clovis CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Clovis CA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which 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 outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Clovis CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those schools that are within your Clovis CA local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Clovis CA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Clovis CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Clovis CA?
Clovis is a city in Fresno County, California, United States. The 2016 population was estimated to be 106,583. Clovis is located 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northeast of downtown Fresno, at an elevation of 361 feet (110 m).
The city of Clovis began as a freight stop along the San Joaquin Valley Railroad. Organized on January 15, 1890, by Fresno businessmen Thomas E. Hughes, Fulton Berry, Gilbert R. Osmun, H.D. Colson, John D. Gray, and William M. Williams, in partnership with Michigan railroad speculator Marcus Pollasky, the SJVRR began construction in Fresno on July 4, 1891, and reached the farmlands of Clovis Cole and George Owen by October of that year. The railroad purchased right-of-way from both farmers, half from each – the east side from Cole and the west side from Owen – and ran tracks up the borderline between the two properties. The railroad agreed to establish a station on the west side of the tracks and to call it "Clovis". The Clovis station, after which the town was named, was positioned on the Owen side of the track.
Cole and Owen later sold land to Marcus Pollasky for development of a townsite. Fresno civil engineer Ingvart Tielman mapped the townsite on behalf of Pollasky on December 29, 1891. The original townsite featured streets named for the officers and principal investors of the railroad: (Benjamin) Woodworth, (Marcus) Pollasky, Fulton (Berry), (Thomas) Hughes, (Gerald) Osmun, and (O. D.) Baron. The townsite, named Clovis by Pollasky, was laid out on what was originally Owen's land.
The railroad was completed as far as the town of Hamptonville (now Friant) on the banks of the San Joaquin River, just 26 miles (42 km) from its point of origin in Fresno. Articles of Incorporation for the San Joaquin Valley Railroad indicate that the corporation intended to build 100 miles of track, including sidings and spurs, through the agricultural acreage east of Fresno, then north to the timber and mineral resources of the Sierra foothills. At the time, Hamptonville was called "Pollasky". A celebration of the completion of track-laying was held at the Pollasky terminus on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving of 1891 with a reported 3,000 Fresnans attending. The railroad began official operation in January 1892.
Choose the Best Paralegal Program near Clovis CA
Selecting the best paralegal training 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 Clovis residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Different 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 choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Clovis CA.
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