How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Antioch California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Antioch CA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their Antioch residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Antioch CA attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, 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 follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- 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 responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically 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 fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Antioch CA is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Antioch CA area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important issues to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Antioch CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Antioch CA law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Antioch CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in California or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Antioch CA area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, 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 assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Antioch CA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Antioch CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into 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 earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Antioch CA?
If you live near Antioch 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.
Antioch (formerly, East Antioch, Smith's Landing, and Marshs Landing) is the second largest city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. Located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area along the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, it is a suburb of San Francisco and Oakland. The city's population was 102,372 at the 2010 census and estimated to be 110,542 in 2015.
Antioch is one of the oldest towns in California. In 1848, John Marsh, owner of Rancho Los Meganos, one of the largest ranches in California, built a landing on the San Joaquin River in what is now Antioch. It became known as Marsh's Landing, and was the shipping point for the 17,000-acre rancho. It included a pier extending well out into the river, enabling vessels drawing 15 feet of water to tie up there at any season of the year. The landing also included a slaughterhouse, smokehouse for curing hams, rodeo grounds, and even a 1½-story dwelling, embellished with fretwork, that was brought around the Horn to serve as a home for the mayordomo (manager) and his wife.
In 1850, two brothers, William and Joseph Smith, founded a town slightly west of Marsh's Landing, and named it Smith's Landing. In 1851, the town's new minister persuaded the residents to change the name of the town to Antioch, for the biblical city of Antioch.
Bachelor Of Legal Studies Antioch CA
Selecting the best paralegal certificate program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Bachelor Of Legal Studies. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Antioch home. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Antioch CA.
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