How to Select a Paralegal College near Clearlake Oaks California
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Clearlake Oaks CA and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Clearlake Oaks residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Clearlake Oaks CA with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly 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 diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Clearlake Oaks CA paralegal can be complex 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 action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Clearlake Oaks CA as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies in the profession 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Clearlake Oaks CA.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for students in Clearlake Oaks CA searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Clearlake Oaks CA area schools. But because there are so many 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 particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Clearlake Oaks CA law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Clearlake Oaks CA paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Clearlake Oaks CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success 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 students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Clearlake Oaks CA local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Clearlake Oaks CA. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Clearlake Oaks CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Clearlake Oaks CA?
Clearlake Oaks, California
Clearlake Oaks is a census-designated place (CDP) in Lake County, California, United States. It is located on the extreme southeast of Clear Lake, 13 miles (20.8 km) east-southeast of Lakeport, at an elevation of 1,335 feet (407 m). The population was 2,359 at the 2010 census, down from 2,402 at the 2000 census.
The site of the original town, inland of State Route 20, was subdivided by the 1920s. Situated in a broad canyon mouth, the original town site is about 4 blocks long and 3 deep, triangular in shape, with a plaza site in its center. Today the plaza is paved and used for parking by the church located along the west side. Most of the homes in the village remain true to their "fishing cottage" roots.
The Stubbs post office opened in 1926, and changed its name to Clearlake Oaks in 1935. The name Stubbs honored Charles Stubbs, a local landowner. The relocation of the post office, the aging population, and the coming of Wal-Mart have combined to kill the "downtown". Fifteen years ago, there were two markets, a chain hardware store, two gas stations, video store, salon, and several restaurants and bars. A privately operated marina had fish and ski boats for rent. But by the late nineties, Clearlake Oaks was down to one market, one convenience store, and a struggling antique store.
The park, beach, and pier were refurbished a few years back. Recently, a wine-tasting room has opened and live music can again be heard at The Barn. There is hope that something may be yet built at the sites of The Timbers or Sal's Market. As of 2007 the property next to the grocery store was being cleared and turned into a park, called Nylander Park after the owner of the local grocery store. There are two gas stations, several saloons, a post office, and several restaurants.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Clearlake Oaks CA
Selecting the right paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Clearlake Oaks residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire 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 appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Clearlake Oaks CA.
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