How to Choose the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Brisbane California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Brisbane CA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their Brisbane homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Brisbane CA lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education 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 quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Brisbane CA is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although 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 regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Brisbane CA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school 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 might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Brisbane CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 call several Brisbane CA law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Brisbane CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out 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 substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in California or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Brisbane CA area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Brisbane CA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Brisbane CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Brisbane CA?
If you live near Brisbane 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.
Brisbane (pron. /ˈbrɪzbeɪn/ BRIZ-bayn, unlike Brisbane, Australia, pron. /ˈbrɪzbən/ BRIZ-ben) is a small city located in California in the northern part of San Mateo County on the lower slopes of San Bruno Mountain. It is located on the southern border of San Francisco, on the northeastern edge of South San Francisco, next to San Francisco Bay and near San Francisco International Airport. The population was 4,282 as of the 2010 census.
Brisbane is called "The City of Stars" because of a holiday tradition established over 65 years ago. At the start of the Christmas/Hanukkah season, many residents and business owners place large, illuminated stars, some as big as 10 feet (3.0 m) or more in diameter, on the downhill sides of homes and offices throughout Brisbane. Many of the stars are kept up all year.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.1 square miles (52 km2), of which 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2) is land and 17.0 square miles (44 km2) (84.58%) is water, the latter the Brisbane Lagoon. A remnant of San Francisco Bay, the Lagoon was formed by the construction of the U. S. Highway 101 causeway, and became diminished as most of its north and central portions were filled with landfill. Brisbane sits at the southeast corner of the Guadalupe Valley.
Best Paralegal Certificate Programs Brisbane CA
Enrolling in the right paralegal studies degree school is an essential 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 Best Paralegal Certificate Programs. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Brisbane residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Brisbane CA.
Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 1400