How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Santa Clara Utah
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Santa Clara UT and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive 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 a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Santa Clara homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 Santa Clara UT with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Santa Clara UT paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited 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, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Santa Clara UT as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Utah to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Santa Clara UT.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students in Santa Clara UT looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Santa Clara UT area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective 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 critical issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Santa Clara UT law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Santa Clara UT paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Santa Clara UT legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Utah legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Santa Clara UT local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, 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 offset some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Santa Clara UT. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Santa Clara UT, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Santa Clara UT?
Santa Clara, Utah
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.9 square miles (12.7 km²), of which, 4.9 square miles (12.6 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.41%) is water.
The first settlers built Fort Clara or Fort Santa Clara, in the winter of 1855-1856. In the fall of 1861, Swiss Mormon colonists arrived at the new settlement, but shortly afterward were victims of the large flood in the Clara River that wiped out the fort and most other buildings, its irrigation dams and ditches, in early in 1862. This flood was part of the Great Flood of 1862.
Hamblin's first home there was included in the destruction of this flood. His second wife Rachael saved one of their young children from drowning, but the child soon after died from exposure. Rachael never fully recovered from the exposure she got from the flood. Swearing to avoid the risk of flood, Hamblin built a new home on a hill in Santa Clara. Owned today by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is operated as a house museum, where Mormon missionaries give daily tours.
19th-century Santa Clara was largely inhabited by Mormon immigrants from Switzerland. Among these was Daniel Bonelli, who after the destruction of the flood went on to be a pioneer colonist of St. Thomas, Nevada in the Moapa Valley, a farmer, later a salt miner and the owner of Bonelli's Ferry, at Rioville, Nevada on the road between southwestern Utah and Arizona on the Colorado River at its confluence with the Virgin River.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Santa Clara UT
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered 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 Santa Clara residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Santa Clara UT.
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