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How can I become a paralegal in California?


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Answered 2013-03-27 16:00:14

Most entrants have an associate degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree coupled with a certificate in paralegal studies. Some employers train paralegals on the job.

Education and training. There are several ways to become a paralegal. The most common is through a community college paralegal program that leads to an associate degree. Another common method of entry, mainly for those who already have a college degree, is earning a certificate in paralegal studies. A small number of schools offer a bachelor's and master's degree in paralegal studies. Finally, some employers train paralegals on the job.

Associate and bachelor's degree programs usually combine paralegal training with courses in other academic subjects. Certificate programs vary significantly, with some only taking a few months to complete. Most certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for individuals who already hold college degrees.

About 1,000 colleges and universities, law schools, and proprietary schools offer formal paralegal training programs. Approximately 260 paralegal programs are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Although many employers do not require such approval, graduation from an ABA-approved program can enhance employment opportunities. Admission requirements vary. Some require certain college courses or a bachelor's degree, while others accept high school graduates or those with legal experience. A few schools require standardized tests and personal interviews.

The quality of paralegal training programs varies; some programs may include job placement services. If possible, prospective students should examine the experiences of recent graduates before enrolling in a paralegal program. Any training program usually includes courses in legal research and the legal applications of computers. Many paralegal training programs also offer an internship in which students gain practical experience by working for several months in a private law firm, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a corporate legal department, a legal aid organization, a bank, or a government agency. Internship experience is an asset when one is seeking a job after graduation.

Some employers train paralegals on the job, hiring college graduates with no legal experience or promoting experienced legal secretaries. Other entrants have experience in a technical field that is useful to law firms, such as a background in tax preparation or criminal justice. Nursing or health administration experience is valuable in personal injury law practices.

Certification and other qualifications. Although most employers do not require certification, earning a voluntary certification from a professional society may offer advantages in the labor market. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), for example, has established standards for certification requiring various combinations of education and experience. Paralegals who meet these standards are eligible to take a 2-day examination. Those who pass the exam may use the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP) credential. The NALA also offers the Advanced Paralegal Certification for experienced paralegals who want to specialize. The Advanced Paralegal Certification program is a curriculum based program offered on the internet.

The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. offers the American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) credential, a voluntary certification program. Paralegals seeking the AACP certification must possess at least five years of paralegal experience and meet one of the three educational criteria. Certification must be renewed every two years, including the completion 18 hours of continuing education.

In addition, the National Federation of Paralegal Association offers the Registered Paralegal (RP) designation to paralegals with a bachelor's degree and at least 2 years of experience who pass an exam. To maintain the credential, workers must complete 12 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The National Association for Legal Professionals offers the Professional Paralegal (PP) certification to those who pass a four-part exam. Recertification requires 75 hours of continuing education.

Paralegals must be able to document and present their findings and opinions to their supervising attorney. They need to understand legal terminology and have good research and investigative skills. Familiarity with the operation and applications of computers in legal research and litigation support also is important. Paralegals should stay informed of new developments in the laws that affect their area of practice. Participation in continuing legal education seminars allows paralegals to maintain and expand their knowledge of the law. In fact, all paralegals in California must complete 4 hours of mandatory continuing education in either general law or in a specialized area of law.

Because paralegals frequently deal with the public, they should be courteous and uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession. The National Association of Legal Assistants, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, and a few States have established ethical guidelines for paralegals to follow.

Advancement. Paralegals usually are given more responsibilities and require less supervision as they gain work experience. Experienced paralegals who work in large law firms, corporate legal departments, or government agencies may supervise and delegate assignments to other paralegals and clerical staff. Advancement opportunities also include promotion to managerial and other law-related positions within the firm or corporate legal department. However, some paralegals find it easier to move to another law firm when seeking increased responsibility or advancement.

For the source and more detailed information concerning your request, click on the related links section (U.S. Department of Labor) indicated below.

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Related Questions

In what ways are you suited to become a paralegal?

In that ways are you suited to become a paralegal?


Can I get advice on how to become a paralegal?

To become a paralegal you must go to paralegal training. The basics of the legal system are taught.


Where can I go to school to become a paralegal?

To become a certified paralegal, you need to go to a paralegal school or take online courses that offer the same training. Some of the schools include The Paralegal Institute.


What kind of schooling is required to become a paralegal?

To become a paralegal, you need to complete a associates degree in paralegal studies. This is offered at community colleges throughout the United States.


Do I need to go to school to become a paralegal?

Yes, you will need to go through some type of school and/or training to become a paralegal. Here are some sites that you can find the best schools: nationalparalegal.edu/ and also www.allcriminaljusticeschools.com/legal.../paralegal/paralegal.


Do they offer online classes to become a paralegal?

Yes, paralegal classes are often offered online. The Paralegal Institute, www.theparalegalinstitute.edu, and National Paralegal College, nationalparalegal.edu, are just 2 of the many.


Do I need to go to a paralegal school to become a paralegal?

Many schools do offer training for paralegals. You can try community colleges and universities for paralegal degrees.


Where are some of the paralegal schools online?

Some of the paralegal schools online are in New York but they have some paralegal schools in California, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and last but not least and in Tennessee.


Do you have to have your high school to become a paralegal?

I have no idea


Are there books about how to become a paralegal online?

I think it would be much easier if you browsed through the internet on how to become a paralegal online. Some great online colleges that offer paralegal courses are http://www.uscareerinstitute.com andhttp://nationalparalegal.edu/.


How long do you have to attend college to become a paralegal?

yes


Where can one study in the paralegal profession?

Paralegal courses are often offered at community colleges or technical schools such as CDI college. To become a paralegal one does not need a University degree.


What degrees do you have to have to become a paralegal?

Most entrants have an associate's degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies. Some employers train paralegals on the job.


What do you need to know before you take a nurse assistant class?

You can attend school online to become a paralegal. National Paralegal College is an accredited online school specifically for paralegal studies.


Can someone become a paralegal with a felony conviction?

Yes. Becoming a paralegal is simply graduating with a degree. There is no bar examination or anything like that.


How do I obtain a paralegal degree?

I would start by looking at Kaplan or your local community college. They can get you started taking the classes you need to become a paralegal.


What type of classes do I need for paralegal school online?

Paralegal classes are available online. You don't need any previous training to take paralegal classes online, but you will be learning how you can assist a legal lawyer with his work. Once you complete the school, you can become a certified paralegal.


Can a paralegal later become a lawyer?

Yes, of course. Yes, of course.


How did Thomas jefferson become vice president in 1796?

Because he was a paralegal


Can a convicted felon become paralegal?

yes but finding a job will not be easy.


what is the best paralegal online school is out there?

If you are looking to become a paralegal, you cannot earn your degree for this occupation at any online college, you will have to enroll in a local school.


Can you become a paralegal with a felony conviction?

Anyone can study to become a paralegal. The question becomes will a law firm employ you with your criminal record, and if you reside in a state where that profession may be licensed by the state, will they grant you a license?


What certifications are needed to be a para legal?

Currently, the State of California does not require a paralegal to be certified.


How much a paralegal is making in LA or Orange County?

I want to get a part time job as a paralegal. Can you tell me how much I can make if I am a beginner in Los Angeles and Orange County, California?


How do lawyers differ from paralegal jobs?

A person can receive training to become a paralegal within three months, however it takes years of training to become a lawyer. Lawyers have a lot more responsibilities than paralegals.


Still have questions?