How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Antioch California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Antioch CA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive 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 a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Antioch residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same 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 separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Antioch CA with a diverse array of job functions, such as 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 work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Antioch CA paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Antioch CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Antioch CA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for students in Antioch CA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Antioch CA area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many 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 significant aspects to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some 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 program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency 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 targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Antioch CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Antioch CA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 call several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Antioch CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Antioch CA local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Antioch CA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Antioch CA, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Antioch CA?
Antioch (formerly, East Antioch, Smith's Landing, and Marshs Landing) is the second largest city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. Located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area along the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, it is a suburb of San Francisco and Oakland. The city's population was 102,372 at the 2010 census and estimated to be 110,542 in 2015.
Antioch is one of the oldest towns in California. In 1848, John Marsh, owner of Rancho Los Meganos, one of the largest ranches in California, built a landing on the San Joaquin River in what is now Antioch. It became known as Marsh's Landing, and was the shipping point for the 17,000-acre rancho. It included a pier extending well out into the river, enabling vessels drawing 15 feet of water to tie up there at any season of the year. The landing also included a slaughterhouse, smokehouse for curing hams, rodeo grounds, and even a 1½-story dwelling, embellished with fretwork, that was brought around the Horn to serve as a home for the mayordomo (manager) and his wife.
In 1850, two brothers, William and Joseph Smith, founded a town slightly west of Marsh's Landing, and named it Smith's Landing. In 1851, the town's new minister persuaded the residents to change the name of the town to Antioch, for the biblical city of Antioch.
Around 1859, coal was discovered in several places in the hills south of Antioch and coal mining formed the first substantial business apart from farming and dairying by the inhabitants of this community. This new industry resulted in the founding of the towns of Nortonville, Somersville, Stewartville, and Black Diamond (now Pittsburg), and added greatly to the economic activity of the Antioch area. The Empire Coal Company was formed by John C. Rouse and George Hawxhurst in 1876, which built a railroad that passed from Antioch toward the mines over what is now "F Street" (formerly Kimball Street). However, later on, both the mine and the railroad passed into the hands of the Belshaw brothers. The mines have long ago ceased operation, and the railroad tracks have been dug up, though the building that served as the Antioch terminus of the railroad still stands on the corner of F Street and Fourth Street, and the grading and trestles still remain much as they were in those early days.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Antioch CA
Selecting the best paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Antioch home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Antioch CA.
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