How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Chester California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Chester CA and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Chester homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Chester CA lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. 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 action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Chester CA is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Chester CA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 critical issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Chester CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Chester CA law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Chester CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in California or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within the Chester CA region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Chester CA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Chester CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and may be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Chester CA?
If you live near Chester 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.
USS Chester (CA-27)
Chester was launched on 3 July 1929 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey; sponsored by Miss J. T. Blain; commissioned on 24 June 1930, Captain Arthur Fairfield in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.
Chester cleared Newport, Rhode Island on 13 August 1930 for an extensive European cruise. She visited Barcelona, Naples, Constantinople, Phaleron Bay, and Gibraltar before returning to Chester, Pennsylvania, for voyage repairs on 13 October. She joined the Scouting Fleet as flagship for Commander, Light Cruiser Divisions, and on 6 March 1931, embarked the Secretary of the Navy for the Canal Zone where he observed the annual fleet problem from Texas. Chester carried the secretary back to Miami, Fla., arriving on 22 March, then sailed to Narragansett Bay for exercises and duty escorting two visiting French cruisers.
Originally classified as a light cruiser, CL-27, because of her thin armor, Chester was redesignated a heavy cruiser, CA-27, because of her 8-inch guns in accordance with the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930, effective 1 July 1931.
Legal Administrative Assistant Online Courses Chester CA
Choosing the best legal assistant certificate program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Legal Administrative Assistant Online Courses. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Chester home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide 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 pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Chester CA.
Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 4