How to Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Bonita California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Bonita CA and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Bonita homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Bonita CA lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Bonita CA is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Bonita CA area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Bonita CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Bonita CA law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Bonita CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in California or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within the Bonita CA area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Bonita CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Bonita CA, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and can be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Bonita CA?
If you live near Bonita 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.
Bonita is a census-designated place (CDP) in southern San Diego County, California, nestled between the cities of Chula Vista, National City, and San Diego. The population was 12,538 at the 2010 census.
While Bonita is politically designated as an unincorporated community, bounded by the incorporated cities of Chula Vista, San Diego and National City, it is closely associated with the geography of the Lower Sweetwater Valley. Thus considered, Bonita occupies about a five-mile (8 km) stretch of the Sweetwater River, its valley, and surrounding hills on either side, bounded upstream (east) by the Sweetwater Reservoir, and downstream (west) effectively by Interstate 805. The community crosses west of I-805—an area less than 160 acres (0.65 km2)—reaching as far south and west as East H Street and Hilltop Drive. Its northern boundary is State Route 54 and its southern extent reaches approximately one mile (2 km) south of the river.
The word Bonita is a feminine word for "beautiful" in the Spanish language. It was the name of a ranch owned by Henry Ernest Cooper, Sr. in 1884, and was used by the nearby post office. The ranch itself was used to cultivate lemons, which were first grown in the area beginning in 1871. During the early years lemon industry was thriving, where it became the originator of the Bonnie Brae Lemon variety, named after the first lemon ranch in the community.
How to Choose Paralegal Studies Schools Bonita CA
Selecting the best paralegal studies certificate school 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 How to Choose Paralegal Studies Schools. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Bonita home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education 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 ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Bonita CA.
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