Accredited Online Paralegal Degree Programs Brentwood CA

How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Brentwood California

Brentwood CA Paralegal doing legal researchCongratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Brentwood CA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive 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 alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Brentwood homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take 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

Brentwood CA law libraryParalegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, only 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 legal assistants and paralegals help Brentwood CA attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities might involve:

  • Investigating and fact checking cases
  • Researching applicable cases and laws
  • Preparing correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
  • Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
  • Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records

With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.

Paralegal Programs and Certification

legal assistant meeting with Brentwood CA attorneyAs we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Brentwood CA is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.

What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs

Questions to ask Brentwood CA paralegal schoolsNow that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Brentwood CA area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.

Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Brentwood CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.

What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Brentwood CA law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.

Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Brentwood CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in California or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose 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 may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Brentwood CA region.

What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Brentwood CA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Brentwood CA, verify 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 offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees

student attending online paralegal certificate program in Brentwood CAParalegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.

 Attending a Paralegal School near Brentwood CA?

If you live near Brentwood 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.

Brentwood, California

Brentwood is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. It is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The population is 51,481 as of 2010, an increase of 121 percent from 23,302 at the 2000 census.[8]

Brentwood began as a community in the late 19th century, and is still known throughout the Bay Area for its agricultural products, primarily its cherries, corn and peaches. Due to urban sprawl many of the old farms and orchards have been replaced by suburban developments since 1990. Brentwood is increasingly residential, with the rate of population growth in the triple digits during the 1990s and 69% from 2000 through 2010. An official estimate showed the population increased nearly 21% during the period 2010 to 2016.

Brentwood was originally laid out on land donated from property owned by John Marsh, an East Contra Costa County pioneer who acquired Rancho Los Meganos, the land grant that Brentwood is built upon, in 1837 from Jose Noriega. Marsh was one of the wealthiest men in California and was instrumental in its becoming independent from Mexico and part of the United States. His letters extolling the potential for agriculture in California were published in newspapers throughout the East. They resulted in the first wagon trains to California. Marsh encouraged this, and allowed new arrivals to stay on his ranch until they could get settled. Rancho Los Meganos became the terminus of the California Trail.[9] Brentwood was named after Marsh's ancestral home, the town of Brentwood in the County of Essex, England.[10]

Accredited Online Paralegal Degree Programs Brentwood CA

Choosing the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Accredited Online Paralegal Degree Programs. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Brentwood residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Brentwood CA.

Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest

  • Certificate Paralegal Lake Hughes CA
  • Legal Administrative Assistant Online Schools Chino Hills CA
  • Paralegal Certificates El Cajon CA
  • Become A Legal Assistant Hydesville CA
  • Paralegal Online Degree Accredited Tollhouse CA
  • Paralegal School Requirements Elverta CA
  • Paralegal Assistant Training Sun Valley CA
  • Paralegal Graduate Programs Laguna Niguel CA
  • Paralegal College Courses Angels Camp CA
  • How to Choose Legal Assistant Certificate Programs Marina Del Rey CA
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