How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Westwood California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Westwood CA and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Westwood homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives 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 hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, 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 help lawyers in Westwood CA with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Westwood CA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos 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 have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly 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 start your career in Westwood CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Westwood CA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for students in Westwood CA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Westwood CA area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know 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 also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Westwood CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Westwood CA paralegal programs you are considering. 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 training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Westwood CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those schools that are within your Westwood CA local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Westwood CA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Westwood CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Westwood CA?
Westwood is a census-designated place (CDP) in Lassen County, California, United States. Westwood is located 20 miles (32 km) west-southwest of Susanville, at an elevation of 5,128 feet (1,563 m). The population was 1,647 at the 2010 census, down from 1,998 at the 2000 census. Westwood is the hometown of mythical logger Paul Bunyan.
Westwood was built by T. B. Walker to be the operations center for the Red River Lumber Company in 1913. The first post office opened the same year. The Red River Lumber Company is credited as being "the world's largest electrical sawmill of the times." Red River Lumber Company also operated one of the first electric railways in the state built in 1927. The mill was equipped with the most modern equipment for its time; and the surrounding territory was crisscrossed by forest railways bringing logs to the mill. The railway shop at Westwood was home to 2-8-0 #102 and 2-8-2 #104 when forest railway operations ceased in the early 1950s. The four woods engines scrapped in 1953 were 2-6-0 number 1, 2-6-2 number 2, 2-8-2 number 3, and 3-truck Shay locomotive number 4.
William Laughead, an advertising copywriter who had once worked in lumber camps, took the stories of an old lumberjack and reworked them into the modern character. He sold the stories of Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox "Babe" to the Red River Lumber Company, which published "Introducing Mr. Paul Bunyan of Westwood, California" in 1916 as an advertising pamphlet. Among other things, Laughead gave the name "Babe" to the blue ox, originated the idea that Paul Bunyan and Babe were of enormous size, and created the first pictorial representation of Bunyan.
The Red River Lumber Company's electric mill at Westwood made wooden Venetian blinds, plywood, boxes, doors and windows which were shipped all over the U.S. and the world. The Westwood mill set a world record in 1942 by sawing 212 million board feet.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Westwood CA
Choosing the right paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Westwood home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting 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 assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Westwood CA.
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