How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Canoga Park California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Canoga Park CA and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require 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 options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Canoga Park residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Canoga Park CA with a wide variety 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 are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Canoga Park CA paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, 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 limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education 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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Canoga Park CA as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Canoga Park CA.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Canoga Park CA looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Canoga Park CA area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization 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 focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Canoga Park CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Canoga Park CA paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when 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 provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Canoga Park CA legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Canoga Park CA local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Canoga Park CA. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Canoga Park CA, make certain classes are offered 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, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Canoga Park CA?
Canoga Park, Los Angeles
Canoga Park is a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, United States. Its 60,000+ residents are considered to be "highly diverse" ethnically. Before the Mexican–American War, the district was part of a rancho, and after the American victory it was converted into wheat farms and then subdivided, with part of it named Owensmouth as a town founded in 1912. It joined Los Angeles in 1917 and was renamed Canoga Park on March 1, 1931, thanks to the efforts of local civic leader Mary Logan Orcutt.
The area of present-day Canoga Park was the homeland of Native Americans in the Tongva-Fernandeño and Chumash-Venturaño tribes, that lived in the Simi Hills and along to the tributaries of the Los Angeles River. They traded with the north Valley Tataviam-Fernandeño people. Native American civilizations inhabited the Valley for an estimated 8,000 years. Their culture left the Burro Flats Painted Cave nearby.
From 1797 to 1846 the area was part of Mission San Fernando Rey de España (Mission San Fernando). After the Mexican War of Independence from Spain the 'future Canoga Park' land became part of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando. In 1845, a land grant for the separate and historically rich Rancho El Escorpión was issued by Governor Pío Pico to three Chumash people, Odón Eusebia, his brother-in-law Urbano, and Urbano's son Mañuel. It was located in the area west of Fallbrook Avenue and later called Platt Ranch.
In 1863 the syndicate San Fernando Homestead Association led by Isaac Lankershim and Isaac Van Nuys purchased the southern half of the historic San Fernando Valley. They established seven wheat ranch operations and were the first to ship wheat to Europe from California. In 1869 Alfred Workman acquired the westernmost ranch, a 13,000 acres (50 km2) wheat farm in future Canoga Park (for more: See Landmarks section below). Eucalyptus trees were introduced into the San Fernando Valley by Albert Workman, who imported seedlings from his native Australia and planted them on the Workman Ranch. In time, they spread though the Canoga Park area ranches, farms and beyond. It has been said that these trees are the parents of all eucalyptus trees in Southern California.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Training near Canoga Park CA
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Canoga Park home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Canoga Park CA.
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