How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal School near Wrightwood California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wrightwood CA and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive 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 a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Wrightwood homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable 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 different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Wrightwood CA lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined 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, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs 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 educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Wrightwood CA is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in California to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Wrightwood CA area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Wrightwood CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, 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 Wrightwood CA law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Wrightwood CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in California or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those schools that are within the Wrightwood CA area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Wrightwood CA. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wrightwood CA, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly 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 address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wrightwood CA?
If you live near Wrightwood California or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Wrightwood is a census-designated place in San Bernardino County, California. It sits at an elevation of 5,935 feet (1,809 m). The population was 4,525 at the 2010 census, up from the population of 3,837 at the 2000 census. Wrightwood is located 77 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
Located in a pine covered valley in the San Gabriel Mountains, the area was first developed as cattle ranches in the 19th century by Nathan and Truman Swarthout, then later the main ranch, owned by Sumner Wright was broken up into residential and commercial lots and by the 1920s a community took roots. Early ski enthusiasts discovered the north facing slopes of the San Gabriels above the Swarthout Valley. Until 1937 the ski area, originally known as Big Pines were part of a Los Angeles County Park. As highways were developed coming out of the major routes in the Cajon Pass, Wrightwood became an easy destination, with no serious mountain driving required for city dwellers. Through the last 60 years, Wrightwood has evolved from a vacation community to home to over 4000 full-time residents. Thirty-five years ago, parents realized they wanted their students closer to home and the result was Serrano High School, that serves not only Wrightwood but neighboring communities of Phelan and Pinon Hills. At nearly 6000 feet in elevation, its valley is protected by the Blue Ridge to the South.
The 2010 US Census reported that Wrightwood had a population of 4,525. The population density was 763.2 people per square mile (294.7/km²). The racial makeup of Wrightwood was 4,126 (91.2%) White (83.4% Non-Hispanic White), 38 (0.8%) African American, 28 (0.6%) Native American, 51 (1.1%) Asian, 7 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 112 (2.5%) from other races, and 163 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 538 persons (11.9%).
Legal Studies Training Wrightwood CA
Choosing the right legal assistant training school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Legal Studies Training. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Wrightwood residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting 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 examine each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Wrightwood CA.
Other California Locations That May Be Of Interest
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