How to Select a Paralegal College near Capistrano Beach California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Capistrano Beach CA and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Capistrano Beach 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 factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 the same job positions 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 separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Capistrano Beach CA with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Capistrano Beach CA paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more applicable 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 are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Capistrano Beach CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Capistrano Beach CA.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more common and may be a good option for students in Capistrano Beach CA looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Capistrano Beach CA area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include 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 previously covered, there are other significant issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Capistrano Beach CA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Capistrano Beach CA paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Capistrano Beach CA legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within your Capistrano Beach CA local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Capistrano Beach CA. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Capistrano Beach CA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, 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 process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Capistrano Beach CA?
Capistrano Beach, Dana Point, California
Capistrano Beach is situated along the coast on the southern end of Dana Point. Homes range from beach cottages to some of the finest real estate in Orange County. Many multimillion-dollar homes can be found in the area, with some situated atop a cliff overlooking Coast Highway and the Capistrano Beach park below. Several celebrities live in the town area, notably on Beach Road, where Hobie Alter conceived of his bestselling Hobie Cat catamaran. There are more modest homes in Capistrano Beach, namely older homes located off Camino Capistrano a little farther from the shore.
Originally a part of Rancho Boca de la Playa, the area now known as Capistrano Beach was known as Serra in the late 1880s when the railroad was first extending down from Los Angeles. The land was reportedly sold to the San Bernardino and San Diego Railroad company for $1. Development of Capistrano Beach started in 1925 with residential homes on the bluff. The Capistrano Beach club was built along the shore of the new development. In 1929, the Petroleum Securities Company (owned by Edward L. Doheney) became the new owners of the Capistrano Beach development. In 1931, Doheny donated over 40 acres of beach to the state, which became Doheny State Beach. During the excavation of the land during development, the bones of a mastodon (or possibly a mammoth) were discovered. A 1180 ft wood pier was built for strolling, sightseeing, and fishing. The pier was severely damaged by waves in 1964. It was condemned and closed for fishing. Demolition of the pier was started in September 1965. The Capistrano Beach club became rundown and, in the late 1960s was dismantled. Capistrano Beach became part of the city of Dana Point in 1989.
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Capistrano Beach CA
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee 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 comfort and privacy of your Capistrano Beach residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private 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 profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Capistrano Beach CA.
Other Cool Cities in California
Business Results 1 - 10 of 833