How to Pick a Paralegal College near Westmorland California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Westmorland CA and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Westmorland homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Westmorland CA with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Westmorland CA paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume 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 educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Westmorland CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 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 obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Westmorland CA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good option for students in Westmorland CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive 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 dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Westmorland CA area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Westmorland CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Westmorland CA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Westmorland CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success 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 substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Westmorland CA local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Westmorland CA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Westmorland CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Westmorland CA?
Westmorland (formerly, Westmoreland) is a city in Imperial County, California. Westmorland is located 8.5 miles (14 km) southwest of Calipatria. The population was 2,225 at the 2010 census, up from 2,131 in 2000. It is part of the El Centro Metropolitan Area.
Westmorland is on State Route 86, which was upgraded to a new six-lane highway to reduce its infamous auto accident and fatality risk, while it connects with Brawley, El Centro and Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.
Westmorland is below sea level and sits behind a number of active faults. Seismic activity has been recorded several times during the 20th century, with tremors occurring in 1907, 1916, 1925, 1940, 1948, 1965 and 1979. The 1987 Superstition Hills event caused serious damage in Westmorland and the Imperial Valley.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Westmorland had a population of 2,225. The population density was 3,769.7 people per square mile (1,455.5/km²). The racial makeup of Westmorland was 1,038 (46.7%) White, 21 (0.9%) African American, 38 (1.7%) Native American, 11 (0.5%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 1,042 (46.8%) from other races, and 75 (3.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,938 persons (87.1%).
Select the Ideal Paralegal Program near Westmorland CA
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Westmorland residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Westmorland CA.
Other Cool Cities in California
Business Results 1 - 10 of 14