How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Compton California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Compton CA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Compton residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both hold the same 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 different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Compton CA with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents 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 responsibilities, the job of a Compton CA paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Compton CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Compton CA.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be a good option for students in Compton CA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Compton CA area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Compton CA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Compton CA paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Compton CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Compton CA local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Compton CA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Compton CA, verify classes are available 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, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Compton CA?
Compton is a city in southern Los Angeles County, California, United States, situated south of downtown Los Angeles. Compton is one of the oldest cities in the county and on May 11, 1888, was the eighth city to incorporate. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 96,455. It is known as the "Hub City" due to its geographic centrality in Los Angeles County. Neighborhoods in Compton include Sunny Cove, Leland, Downtown Compton, and Richland Farms. The city is generally a working class city with some middle-class neighborhoods, and is home to a relatively young population, at an average 25 years of age, compared to the American median age of 35 (2010 data).
In 1784, the Spanish Crown deeded a tract of over 75,000 acres (300 km2) to Juan Jose Dominguez in this area. The tract was named Rancho San Pedro. Dominguez's name was later applied to the Dominguez Hills area south of Compton. The tree that marked the original northern boundary of the rancho still stands at the corner of Poppy and Short streets. The rancho was subdivided and parcels were sold within the Californios of Alta California until the lands were ceded after the Mexican-American war in 1848. American immigrants acquired most of the rancho lands after 1848.[clarification needed]
In 1867, Griffith Dickenson Compton led a group of 30 pioneers to the area. These families had traveled by wagon train south from Stockton, California, in search of ways to earn a living other than the rapid exhaustion of gold fields. Originally named Gibsonville, after one of the tract owners, it was later called Comptonville. However, to avoid confusion with the Comptonville located in Yuba County, the name was shortened to Compton. Compton's earliest settlers were faced with terrible hardships as they farmed the land in bleak weather to get by with just the barest subsistence. The weather continued to be harsh, rainy and cold, and fuel was difficult to find. To gather firewood it was necessary to travel to mountains close to Pasadena. The round trip took almost a week. Many in the Compton party wanted to relocate to a friendlier climate and settle down, but as there were two general stores within traveling distance—one in the pueblo of Los Angeles, the other in Wilmington—they eventually decided to stay put.
By 1887, the settlers realized it was time to make improvements to the local government. A series of town meetings were held to discuss incorporation of their little town. Griffith D. Compton donated his land to incorporate and create the city of Compton in 1889, but he did stipulate that a certain acreage be zoned solely for agriculture and named Richland Farms. In January 1888, a petition supporting the incorporation of Compton was forwarded to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who in turn forwarded the petition to the State Legislature. On May 11, 1888 the city of Compton was incorporated with a population of 500 people. The first City Council meeting was held on May 14, 1888.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Training near Compton CA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Compton home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program 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 chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Compton CA.
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