How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Artesia California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Artesia CA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Artesia homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, 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 assist lawyers in Artesia CA with a wide range of job functions, such as 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 are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Artesia CA paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able 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 possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Artesia CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Artesia CA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for those in Artesia CA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least 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 disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Artesia CA area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. 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 already covered, there are other crucial factors to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Artesia CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Artesia CA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Artesia CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign 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? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Artesia CA local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Artesia CA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Artesia CA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Artesia CA?
Artesia is a city in southeast Los Angeles County, California. Artesia was incorporated on May 29, 1959 and is one of Los Angeles County's Gateway Cities. The city has a 2010 census population of 16,522. Artesia is surrounded on the west, south, and east sides by Cerritos, with Norwalk to the north. Artesia is the home of the East West Ice Palace, an ice rink which is co-owned by Michelle Kwan. It was also the childhood home of former First Lady Pat Nixon, who lived there from 1914 to 1931, though the property on which she grew up is now part of neighboring Cerritos.
The village of Artesia was established upon the completion of the Artesia School District on May 3, 1875. It was named for the many flowing artesian wells in the area, which made the village ideal for farming and agriculture.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Dutch and Portuguese farmers developed Artesia into one of the most important dairy districts in Southern California. After World War II, as with many other cities in the region, Artesia was pressured by developers to build residential tracts. The city of Dairy Valley was incorporated in 1956, and later became the city of Cerritos. As the demand for housing continued, dairymen moved their operations further east into Chino and north into the Central Valley. Artesia finally incorporated on May 29, 1959.
In 1993, the Artesia Historical Society was formed, with the mission of preserving and protecting the archives and historic sites of the city. In 2002, the Historical Society salvaged and restored one of the last remaining Spanish-styled homes in the city into a historical civic museum open to the public.
Find the Best Paralegal School near Artesia CA
Selecting the right paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Artesia home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Artesia CA.
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