How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Cypress California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Cypress CA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive 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 at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Cypress residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available 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 fill comparable job roles and functions, 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Cypress CA with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as 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 wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Cypress CA paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Cypress CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue 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. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Cypress CA.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for those in Cypress CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Cypress CA area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive 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 get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Cypress CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Cypress CA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law practices 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 exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Cypress CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those schools that are within your Cypress CA local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Cypress CA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Cypress CA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Cypress CA?
The first people living in the area now known as Cypress were the Gabrieleno, a Native American tribe of the Tongva people, who were displaced soon after the arrival of the Europeans. The government of Spain then possessed the land until Mexico gained its independence in 1821. Mexico then lost Alta California to the United States during the period following the Bear Flag Revolt and the Mexican-American War.
The original Spanish dons held immense tracts of land throughout California, which were given in lieu of pay to Spanish soldiers. Manuel Nieto was one of the early Spanish dons or landowners in the area. After his death in 1804, his sons retained title to Rancho Los Nietos, but these lands were eventually broken up and distributed among them in 1833 by a grant from the Mexican governor, José Figueroa. Manuel's son, Juan José Nieto, retained the title to a large portion of his father's original properties in southern California that included the present-day area of Cypress. That land and other Rancho properties were finally sold to the American Abel Stearns, then acquired by the Robinson Trust, a group of investors, which eventually parlayed their holdings into a vast land speculation business.
Cypress originally was nicknamed "Waterville" due to the preponderance of artesian wells in the area, but was incorporated under the name Dairy City in 1956 by local dairy farmers as a means of staving off developers and to preserve their dairies, much like the then-neighboring cities of Dairy Valley in Cerritos and Dairyland in La Palma. After World War II, however, the land became too valuable for farming or ranching, and the dairies gradually sold out to housing developers during the 1960s, so that by the 1970s no dairies remained. Many of the dairymen moved their operations to Chino, where development is once again pushing them out of the area.
In 1957 local residents voted to change the name of "Dairy City" to "Cypress". The name was taken from Cypress Elementary School (originally built in 1895) which took its name from the Cypress trees planted to protect the schoolhouse from the seasonal Santa Ana winds. Cypress Elementary School also provided the name for new Pacific Electric Railway station on Walker Street at Lincoln Avenue when the Santa Ana Line was completed in 1906, as "Waterville" already had been used elsewhere in the system.
Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Cypress CA
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential 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 Cypress residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cypress CA.
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