How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies School near Canoga Park California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Canoga Park CA and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Canoga Park homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same 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 legal assistants and paralegals assist Canoga Park CA attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Canoga Park CA is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 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 obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Canoga Park CA area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree 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 important factors to consider as well, such as 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 properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Canoga Park CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Canoga Park CA law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Canoga Park CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in California or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Canoga Park CA area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Canoga Park CA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Canoga Park CA, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Canoga Park CA?
If you live near Canoga Park 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.
Canoga Park, Los Angeles
Canoga Park is a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, United States. Its 60,000+ residents are considered to be "highly diverse" ethnically. Before the Mexican–American War, the district was part of a rancho, and after the American victory it was converted into wheat farms and then subdivided, with part of it named Owensmouth as a town founded in 1912. It joined Los Angeles in 1917 and was renamed Canoga Park on March 1, 1931, thanks to the efforts of local civic leader Mary Logan Orcutt.
The area of present-day Canoga Park was the homeland of Native Americans in the Tongva-Fernandeño and Chumash-Venturaño tribes, that lived in the Simi Hills and along to the tributaries of the Los Angeles River. They traded with the north Valley Tataviam-Fernandeño people. Native American civilizations inhabited the Valley for an estimated 8,000 years. Their culture left the Burro Flats Painted Cave nearby.
From 1797 to 1846 the area was part of Mission San Fernando Rey de España (Mission San Fernando). After the Mexican War of Independence from Spain the 'future Canoga Park' land became part of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando. In 1845, a land grant for the separate and historically rich Rancho El Escorpión was issued by Governor Pío Pico to three Chumash people, Odón Eusebia, his brother-in-law Urbano, and Urbano's son Mañuel. It was located in the area west of Fallbrook Avenue and later called Platt Ranch.
Paralegal Training Canoga Park CA
Choosing the right paralegal studies degree school is a crucial 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 Training. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Canoga Park residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Canoga Park CA.
Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest
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