How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Blythe California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Blythe CA and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive 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 educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Blythe homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover 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 have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Blythe CA with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Blythe CA paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Blythe CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Blythe CA.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for those in Blythe CA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Blythe CA area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Blythe CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Blythe CA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Blythe CA legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign 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 School’s Location? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. 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 want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Blythe CA local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Blythe CA. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Blythe CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Blythe CA?
Blythe is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, in the Palo Verde Valley of the Lower Colorado River Valley region, an agricultural area and part of the Colorado Desert along the Colorado River, approximately 224 miles (360 km) east of Los Angeles and 150 miles (240 km) west of Phoenix. Blythe was named after Thomas H. Blythe, a San Francisco financier, who established primary water rights to the Colorado River in the region in 1877. The city was incorporated on July 21, 1916. The population was 20,817 at the 2010 census.
In the early or mid-1870s, William Calloway (known as Oliver Calloway in some sources), an engineer and a former captain of the 1st California Infantry Regiment, explored an area across the Colorado River from Ehrenberg, Arizona and found its potential for development. Calloway made preliminary surveys and filed land claims under the Swamp Land Act of 1850. He interested the wealthier Thomas Henry Blythe (real last name Williams), who was born in Mold, Wales, to undertake development and settlement of an "empire" located next to the Colorado. On July 17, 1877, Blythe filed his first claim for Colorado River water on what was to become the "Blythe Intake". Blythe appointed another man named George Irish as manager to assist Calloway in building an irrigation system. Calloway died in a Chemehuevi attack in March 28, 1880, and was replaced by C.C. Miller, the father of Frank Augustus Miller. Thomas Blythe died on April 4, 1883; his only revisit to the valley was in November 1882. After his death, the work in the valley halted and Blythe's estate subsequently went into litigation between his illegitimate daughter Florence and other claimants, the trial beginning on 1889. By the 1900s, Florence was awarded the estate, after several years of preceding rulings in favor of her and appeals against her.
Frank Murphy and Ed Williams, who were involved on the cattle industry in southeastern Arizona, came to the area in 1904 and were convinced it was well-suited for cattle and farming. With the Hobson brothers from Ventura County, they bought Blythe's estate and formed the Palo Verde Land and Water Company. During 1911-12, W.F. Holt, who helped develop nearby Imperial Valley, was the company's general manager.
On August 8, 1916, the California Southern Railroad reached Blythe from the desert station of Rice, then known as Blythe Junction. It was later renamed to honor G.W. Rice, an engineer and superintendent of the railroad. The dramatic growth in the valley following this event attracted national attention. Production totals increased annually from virtually nothing to near $8,000,000 in few years, primarily from cotton and cotton seed shipped to the ports. The lower cotton prices in 1920 ended this prosperous time. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway began leasing the line in 1921 and acquired it in the end of 1942.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Blythe CA
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Blythe residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection 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 programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Blythe CA.
Other Cool Cities in California