How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Blythe California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Blythe CA and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Blythe homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, 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 assist Blythe CA lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering 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 degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, 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 limited to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Blythe CA is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Blythe CA area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective 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 important factors to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Blythe CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Blythe CA law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Blythe CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in California or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. 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 wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Blythe CA region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary 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 may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Blythe CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Blythe CA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Blythe CA?
If you live near Blythe 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.
Blythe is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, in the Palo Verde Valley of the Lower Colorado River Valley region, an agricultural area and part of the Colorado Desert along the Colorado River, approximately 224 miles (360 km) east of Los Angeles and 150 miles (240 km) west of Phoenix. Blythe was named after Thomas H. Blythe, a San Francisco financier, who established primary water rights to the Colorado River in the region in 1877. The city was incorporated on July 21, 1916. The population was 20,817 at the 2010 census.
In the early or mid-1870s, William Calloway (known as Oliver Calloway in some sources), an engineer and a former captain of the 1st California Infantry Regiment, explored an area across the Colorado River from Ehrenberg, Arizona and found its potential for development. Calloway made preliminary surveys and filed land claims under the Swamp Land Act of 1850. He interested the wealthier Thomas Henry Blythe (real last name Williams), who was born in Mold, Wales, to undertake development and settlement of an "empire" located next to the Colorado. On July 17, 1877, Blythe filed his first claim for Colorado River water on what was to become the "Blythe Intake". Blythe appointed another man named George Irish as manager to assist Calloway in building an irrigation system. Calloway died in a Chemehuevi attack in March 28, 1880, and was replaced by C.C. Miller, the father of Frank Augustus Miller. Thomas Blythe died on April 4, 1883; his only revisit to the valley was in November 1882. After his death, the work in the valley halted and Blythe's estate subsequently went into litigation between his illegitimate daughter Florence and other claimants, the trial beginning on 1889. By the 1900s, Florence was awarded the estate, after several years of preceding rulings in favor of her and appeals against her.
Frank Murphy and Ed Williams, who were involved on the cattle industry in southeastern Arizona, came to the area in 1904 and were convinced it was well-suited for cattle and farming. With the Hobson brothers from Ventura County, they bought Blythe's estate and formed the Palo Verde Land and Water Company. During 1911–1912, W.F. Holt, who helped develop nearby Imperial Valley, was the company's general manager.
How to Choose Paralegal Certificate Programs Blythe CA
Selecting the right paralegal studies degree program is a crucial 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 How to Choose Paralegal Certificate Programs. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Blythe residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Blythe CA.
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