How to Choose the Right Paralegal Training Program near Cerritos California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Cerritos CA and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Cerritos homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles 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 different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Cerritos CA lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files 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 mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical duties 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, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Cerritos CA is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Cerritos CA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization 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 targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Cerritos CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Cerritos CA law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity 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 establishing contacts within the Cerritos CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance 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 corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in California or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within the Cerritos CA region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Cerritos CA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Cerritos CA, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Cerritos CA?
If you live near Cerritos 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.
Cerritos (Spanish for little hills), formerly named Dairy Valley because of the preponderance of dairy farms in the area, is an affluent suburban city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, and is one of several cities that constitute the Gateway Cities of southeast Los Angeles County. It was incorporated on April 24, 1956. As of the 2010 census, the population was 49,041. It is part of the Los Angeles–Long Beach–Anaheim, California Metropolitan Statistical Area designated by the Office of Management and Budget.
Cerritos was originally inhabited by Native Americans belonging to the Tongva (or "People of the Earth"). Later, the Tongva would be renamed the "Gabrieleños" by the Spanish settlers after the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. The Gabrieleños were the largest group of Southern California Indians as well as the most developed in the region. The Gabrieleños lived off the land, deriving food from the animals or plants that could be gathered, snared or hunted, and grinding acorns as a staple.
Beginning in the late 15th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the New World and worked their way to the California coast in 1542. The colonization process included "civilizing" the native populations in California by establishing various missions. Soon afterward, a town called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (Los Angeles today) would be founded and prosper with the aid of subjects from New Spain and Native American labor.
Legal Studies Classes Cerritos CA
Selecting the right paralegal certificate program is a crucial 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 Legal Studies Classes. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Cerritos home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cerritos CA.
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