How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Yucca Valley California
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Yucca Valley CA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within driving range of their Yucca Valley homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Yucca Valley CA lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Yucca Valley CA is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in California to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Yucca Valley CA area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out 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 many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Yucca Valley CA law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Yucca Valley CA law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Yucca Valley CA legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with California legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in California or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Yucca Valley CA area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Yucca Valley CA. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Yucca Valley CA, verify classes are offered 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. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least 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 looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Yucca Valley CA?
If you live near Yucca Valley CA or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Yucca Valley, California
Yucca Valley is an incorporated town in San Bernardino County, California, United States. The population was 20,700 as of the 2010 census. Yucca Valley lies 17 miles (27 km) west of Twentynine Palms, 27 miles (43 km) north of Palm Springs, 62 miles (100 km) south of Barstow via State Route 247, 45 miles (72 km) southeast of Lucerne Valley and 55 miles (89 km) east of San Bernardino.
Bordered in the west by the San Bernardino Mountains and in the south by the Joshua Tree National Park, the Yucca Valley community is located in the Mojave Desert at roughly 3,300 feet (1,000 m) above sea level.
Yucca Valley contracts its police and public safety services from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Fire suppression and ambulance services are provided by the San Bernardino County Fire Department and Cal Fire.
Select the Right Legal Assistant College near Yucca Valley CA
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Yucca Valley residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your training 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 education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Yucca Valley CA.
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