How to Find the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Calabasas California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Calabasas CA and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Calabasas residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, 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 Calabasas CA lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting 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 preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Calabasas CA is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Calabasas CA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Calabasas 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 accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Calabasas CA law offices that you may be interested 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 may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Calabasas CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in California or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Calabasas CA area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Calabasas CA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Calabasas CA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater 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 program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Calabasas CA?
If you live near Calabasas 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.
Calabasas is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, located in the hills west of the San Fernando Valley and in the northwest Santa Monica Mountains between Woodland Hills, Agoura Hills, West Hills, Hidden Hills, and Malibu, California. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 23,058, up from 20,033 at the 2000 census. The city was formally incorporated in 1991.
It is generally accepted that the name of Calabasas is derived from the Spanish calabaza meaning "pumpkin", "squash", or "gourd" (cf. calabash). Some historians hold the theory that Calabasas is derived from the Chumash word calahoosa which is said to mean "where the wild geese fly." Owing to vast presence of wild squash plants in the area, the squash theory is more prevalent among local residents. At the top of the Calabasas grade, which is east of Las Virgenes Road on the original El Camino Real, legend has it that in 1824, a Basque rancher from Oxnard spilled a wagonload of pumpkins on the road en route to Los Angeles. The following spring, hundreds of pumpkin seeds sprouted alongside the road. The area was named Las Calabasas—the place where the pumpkins fell.
In honor of its namesake, the City of Calabasas and the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce hold an annual Pumpkin Festival in October, including carnival games, exhibits, demonstrations, and live entertainment. The festival has evolved from a small-town fair to a significant annual event. Though the current Pumpkin Festival is held at Juan Bautista de Anza Park in Calabasas, the original festival was believed to have taken place where the traveling wagon carrying pumpkins overturned and started the area's first pumpkin patch.
Paralegal Bachelor Degrees Calabasas CA
Enrolling in the ideal legal assistant certificate school is an essential 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 Paralegal Bachelor Degrees. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Calabasas residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Calabasas CA.
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