How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Burbank California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Burbank CA and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Burbank homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, 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 help attorneys in Burbank CA with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Burbank CA paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Burbank CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Burbank CA.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good option for those in Burbank CA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Burbank CA area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance 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 as well. A number of Burbank CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Burbank CA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Burbank CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those schools that are within your Burbank CA local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Burbank CA. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Burbank CA, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Burbank CA?
Billed as the "Media Capital of the World" and only a few miles northeast of Hollywood, numerous media and entertainment companies are headquartered or have significant production facilities in Burbank, including The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, The Burbank Studios, Cartoon Network Studios with the West Coast branch of Cartoon Network, and Insomniac Games. The Hollywood Burbank Airport was the location of Lockheed's Skunk Works, which produced some of the most secret and technologically advanced airplanes, including the U-2 spy planes that uncovered the Soviet Union missile components in Cuba in October 1962.
Burbank consists of two distinct areas: a downtown/foothill section, in the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains, and the flatland section. The city was referred to as "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The city was named after David Burbank, a New Hampshire–born dentist and entrepreneur who established a sheep ranch there in 1867.
The city of Burbank occupies land that was originally part of two Spanish and Mexican-era colonial land grants, the 36,400-acre (147 km2) Rancho San Rafael, granted to Jose Maria Verdugo by the Spanish Bourbon government in 1784, and the 4,063-acre (16.44 km2) Rancho Providencia created in 1821. Historically, this area was the scene of a military skirmish which resulted in the unseating of the Spanish Governor of California, and his replacement by the Mexican leader Pio Pico. Remnants of the military battle reportedly were found many years later in the vicinity of Warner Bros. Studio when residents dug up cannonballs.
Dr. David Burbank purchased over 4,600 acres (19 km2) of the former Verdugo holding and another 4,600 acres (19 km2) of the Rancho Providencia in 1867 and built a ranch house and began to raise sheep and grow wheat on the ranch. By 1876, the San Fernando Valley became the largest wheat-raising area in Los Angeles County. But the droughts of the 1860s and 1870s underlined the need for steady water supplies.
Find the Right Paralegal Training near Burbank CA
Enrolling in the best paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Burbank home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford 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 presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Burbank CA.
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