How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Colfax California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Colfax CA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Colfax homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers 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 concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Colfax CA with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Colfax CA paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able 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 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 means to launch your career in Colfax CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Colfax CA.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and can be a good alternative for students in Colfax CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Colfax CA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Colfax CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Colfax CA paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good 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 call some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Colfax CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within your Colfax CA local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Colfax CA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Colfax CA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Colfax CA?
Colfax (formerly, Alden Grove, Alder Grove, Illinoistown, and Upper Corral) is a city in Placer County, California, at the crossroads of Interstate 80 and State Route 174. It is part of the Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,963 at the 2010 census. The town is named in honor of U.S. Vice President Schuyler Colfax (1869–73), a bronze statue of whom stands at Railroad Street and Grass Valley Street. (This is the only known statue of Schuyler Colfax in the United States). Some of the town's notable features include the newly restored Southern Pacific Railroad colonnade-style depot (which houses the Colfax Museum and Chamber of Commerce) built in 1905, the downtown shops on Main Street, and Colfax High School, which serves a large surrounding area.
Originally inhabited by the Maidu and Miwok Indians, by the mid-19th century the city site was known as Alder Grove; however, as development increased, the city became known as Illinoistown. In April 1852, the Reelfoot Williams Gang robbed a Nevada City stagecoach of $7,000 in gold bullion near Illinoistown. This was the first stagecoach robbery in the gold country.
Later it was renamed Colfax after then Speaker of the House (and later Vice President) Schuyler Colfax who visited the town in 1865 while inspecting progress of construction of the Central Pacific Railroad, the western portion of the first transcontinental railroad. The city was the southern terminus of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad from 1876 until the railroad’s removal in 1942. Historic U.S. Route 40 also runs through the city as well as the more modern Interstate 80. The city is mentioned in Jules Verne’s book, Around the World in Eighty Days.
Colfax is located at 39°5′50″N 120°57′14″W / 39.09722°N 120.95389°W / 39.09722; -120.95389 (39.097260, -120.954017). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2), all of it land.
Select the Best Paralegal Training near Colfax CA
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying 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 privacy and comfort of your Colfax residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Colfax CA.
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