How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Chatsworth California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Chatsworth CA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Chatsworth residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles 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 classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Chatsworth CA attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly 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 take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Chatsworth CA is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Chatsworth CA area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn 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 prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Chatsworth CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Chatsworth CA law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Chatsworth CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in California or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Chatsworth CA area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Chatsworth CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Chatsworth CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, 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 quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Chatsworth CA?
If you live near Chatsworth 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.
Chatsworth, Los Angeles
The area was home to Native Americans, some of whom left caves containing rock art. Chatsworth was explored and colonized by the Spanish beginning in the 18th century. The land was part of a Mexican land grant in the 19th century, and after the United States took over the land following the Mexican–American War, it was the largest such grant in California. Settlement and development followed.
Chatsworth has seven public and eight private schools. There are large open-space and smaller recreational parks as well as a public library and a transportation center. Distinctive features are the former Chatsworth Reservoir and the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.
The 2000 U.S. census counted 35,073 residents in the 15.24-square-mile Chatsworth neighborhood, or 2,301 people per square mile, among the lowest population densities for both the city and the county. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 37,102. In 2000 the median age for residents was 40, considered old for city and county neighborhoods; the percentages of residents aged 35 and older were among the county's highest.
Legal Administrative Assistant Courses Chatsworth CA
Choosing the best legal assistant certificate program is an essential 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 Legal Administrative Assistant Courses. 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 privacy and comfort of your Chatsworth home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Chatsworth CA.
Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 2000