How to Pick the Right Paralegal Studies School near Calexico California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Calexico CA and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Calexico residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, 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 assist Calexico CA attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Calexico CA is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Calexico CA area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate 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 consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may 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 demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Calexico CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Calexico CA law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Calexico CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in California or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Calexico CA region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Calexico CA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Calexico CA, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering 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 earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Calexico CA?
If you live near Calexico 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.
Calexico is a city in Imperial County, California. The population was 38,572 at the 2010 census, up from 27,109 at the 2000 census. Calexico is about 122 miles (196 km) east of San Diego and 62 miles (100 km) west of Yuma, Arizona. The name of the city is a portmanteau of California and Mexico, which, like that of its adjacent sister city of Mexicali, emphasizes its identity as a border city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, at the 2010 census, the city had a total area of 6.2 square miles (16 km2), all land. Calexico is located 230 miles (370 km) southeast of Los Angeles, 125 miles (201 km) east of San Diego, 260 miles (420 km) west of Phoenix, and adjacent to Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.
Calexico is served by State Routes 98, 7 and 111, with direct connection to Interstate 8 (5 miles north) and State Route 86. There are eighteen regular and irregular common carriers for intrastate and interstate truck service to Calexico.
Paralegal Studies Certificates Calexico CA
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies training school is a vital first step to guarantee 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 Studies Certificates. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Calexico home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as 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 programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Calexico CA.
Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 6