How to Find a Paralegal School near Campbell California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Campbell CA and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Campbell homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Campbell CA with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Campbell CA paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since 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 otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Campbell CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Campbell CA.
Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be a good option for those in Campbell CA searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Campbell CA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many 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 important factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Campbell CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Campbell CA paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special 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. Checking that the school you pick 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 call a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Campbell CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those schools that are within your Campbell CA local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Campbell CA. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Campbell CA, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Campbell CA?
Campbell /ˈkæmbəl/ is a city in Santa Clara County, California, and part of Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2016 U.S. Census, Campbell's population is 42,584. Although not a major high-tech city like many of its neighbors, Campbell is the original home of eBay and of its creator, Pierre Omidyar.
Campbell is home to the Pruneyard Shopping Center, a sprawling open-air retail complex which was involved in a famous U.S. Supreme Court case that established the extent of the right to free speech in California. Today the Pruneyard Shopping Center is home to the South Bay offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Of the total area, 1.49% is water, consisting of percolation ponds in Los Gatos Creek Park and in other locations; San Tomas Aquino Creek, which flows north on the west side of the city, is completely enclosed with fences and runs through concrete culverts; and Los Gatos Creek, which flows north-north-east on the east side of the city and has paths along both banks for hikers and joggers (locally called the "Perc Ponds").
State Route 17 runs roughly parallel to Los Gatos Creek on its eastern side; State Route 85 runs roughly east–west through Los Gatos just south of Campbell and cuts through the southwest corner of the city.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Campbell CA
Selecting the best paralegal degree 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 option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Campbell home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Campbell CA.
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