How to Select the Right Legal Assistant School near Alameda California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Alameda CA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Alameda homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Alameda CA attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular 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 the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually 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 fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Alameda CA is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Alameda CA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Alameda CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 contact some Alameda CA law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear 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 Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Alameda CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large 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? Because laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school located in California or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Alameda CA region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Alameda CA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Alameda CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Alameda CA?
If you live near Alameda California or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Alameda (/ˌæləˈmiːdə/ AL-ə-MEE-də; Spanish: [ala'meða]) is a city in Alameda County, California, United States. It is located on Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, and is adjacent to and south of Oakland and east of San Francisco across the San Francisco Bay. Bay Farm Island, a portion of which is also known as "Harbor Bay Isle", is not actually an island, and is part of the mainland adjacent to the Oakland International Airport. The city's estimated 2017 population was 79,928. Alameda is a charter city, rather than a general law city, allowing the city to provide for any form of government. Alameda became a charter city and adopted a council–manager government in 1916, which it retains to the present.
The island Alameda occupies what was originally a peninsula connected to Oakland. Much of it was low-lying and marshy, but on higher ground than the peninsula and adjacent parts of what is now downtown Oakland were home to one of the largest coastal oak forests in the world. The area was therefore called Encinal, Spanish for "forest of evergreen oak".Alameda is Spanish for "grove of poplar trees" or "tree-lined avenue", and was chosen in 1853 by popular vote.
The inhabitants at the time of the arrival of the Spanish in the late 18th century were a local band of the Ohlone tribe. The peninsula became part of the vast Rancho San Antonio granted in 1820 to Luis Peralta by the Spanish king who claimed California. The grant was later confirmed by the new Republic of Mexico upon its independence from Spain.
BA In Legal Studies Alameda CA
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about BA In Legal Studies. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Alameda home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Alameda CA.
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