How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Bodega Bay California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Bodega Bay CA and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Bodega Bay residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered 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 fill the same job roles 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Bodega Bay CA with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Bodega Bay CA paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
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. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Bodega Bay CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Bodega Bay CA.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Bodega Bay CA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Bodega Bay CA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must 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 also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose 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 online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Bodega Bay CA law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Bodega Bay CA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, 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 several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Bodega Bay CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high 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 Campus Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within your Bodega Bay CA local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Bodega Bay CA. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Bodega Bay CA, make sure 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 classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Bodega Bay CA?
Bodega Bay, California
Bodega Bay is a town and census-designated place (CDP) in Sonoma County, California, United States. The population was 1,077 at the 2010 census. The town, located along State Route 1, is on the eastern side of Bodega Harbor, an inlet of Bodega Bay on the Pacific coast.
Bodega Bay is the site of the first Russian structures built in California, which were built in 1809 by Commerce Counseller Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskov of the Russian-American Company in the lead-up to the establishment of Fort Ross. For the Russians, the settlement in Bodega Bay was called Port Rumyantsev, named after the Russian Foreign Minister Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev, and it served as a port to support Fort Ross and the larger Russian community known as Colony Ross.
The location scenes in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed film The Birds (1963) were filmed in both Bodega Bay and nearby Bodega (though both were represented as being parts of the movie's Bodega Bay.) The town markets itself with the film in many ways, including its Birds-themed visitors' center, although none of the film's primary locations are found there. The church and schoolhouse shown in the film are located on Bodega Hwy in Bodega. The town was also featured in the cult horror movie Puppet Master (1989).
PG+E wanted to build a nuclear power plant on Bodega Head in the 1960s, but the plans were shut down after a large protest (the first for environmental reasons) and the fault, which they found while they were digging the hole for the first reactor. The hole filled with water and became known as "The Hole in the Head".
Find the Right Paralegal College near Bodega Bay CA
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial 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 at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Bodega Bay residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Bodega Bay CA.
Other Cool Cities in California
Business Results 1 - 10 of 91