How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Brookdale California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Brookdale CA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Brookdale residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational 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 basically 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Brookdale CA with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting 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 duties, the job of a Brookdale CA paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, 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 applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Brookdale CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Brookdale CA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those in Brookdale CA searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee 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 agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Brookdale CA area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Brookdale CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Brookdale CA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Brookdale CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those schools that are within your Brookdale CA local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Brookdale CA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Brookdale CA, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Brookdale CA?
Brookdale is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Cruz County, California. Brookdale sits at an elevation of 405 feet (123 m). It is located in the San Lorenzo Valley between Boulder Creek and Ben Lomond on Highway 9. The 2010 United States census reported Brookdale's population was 1,991.
This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Brookdale has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.
The Brookdale Inn & Spa, formerly known as the Brookdale Lodge, is known for the stream running through its primary restaurant, the Brook Room. The original lodge was built in 1890 at the site of the Grover Lumber Mill by James Harvey Logan a botanist and Judge (also responsible for the cultivation of the Logan berry). Before Judge Logan's development, the area was known as Clear Creek and Brookville. The inn was built around the river after 1922 while it was owned by Dr. Camp. The lodge was purchased by a new owner in 2007 and the name was changed to Brookdale Inn and Spa. The lodge underwent many structural changes followed by neglect and eventual abandonment. The lodge appeared on the paranormal show Ghost Adventures in 2012. The property has once again been sold and is undergoing intensive renovations.
On August 18, 2009, a fire engulfed a two-story section of the lodge near the rear of the main building that contains apartments mostly occupied by lodge employees. There were no reports of injuries to anybody staying at the inn, though some firefighters suffered minor injuries while fighting the blaze.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Program near Brookdale CA
Choosing the ideal 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 Brookdale home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Brookdale CA.
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