Getting a Paralegal Education in Los Angeles and Southern California
The legal profession may not only be interesting, but it can be a fulfilling way to help people and learn much about our nation’s justice system. Getting a degree or certification as a paralegal could help you work in the legal field without necessarily jumping through all the hoops — not to mention spending all the money — to become an actual lawyer. And doing so in an area as diverse as Los Angeles and southern California could provide any number of opportunities to explore and expand a career in the legal field upon graduation. This could allow you to work in the legal profession, possibly assisting lawyers or a legal team with much of their casework, without the lengthy education.
And with online educational options for paralegal degree and certification widely available, numerous doors in the legal field could be open to you.
Find out More about Paralegals and Legal Assistants
As with many jobs, it can be difficult to know exactly what certain roles entail until you’re actually out there plying your trade. With paralegal and legal assistant duties, it’s really no different. The duties you undertake on a daily basis could range significantly depending upon the size and scope of the organization with which you are employed as well as your educational and work background.
You may at times find yourself office bound. Organizing and filing paperwork, answering phones, conducting online research, studying statistics, sorting through documents to find answers to lawyer questions, and similar duties could all fall on your plate. However, you might also be out and about, heading to the area library or city hall to look up documents and records for a court case. You might be out interviewing clients or witnesses to a case, or you might even be in the courtroom taking notes for lawyers or handling other duties to free up their time to focus on more important legal work.
Which Paralegal Program Fits You Best?
Whether you choose to pursue your educational options online or on a college campus is really up to you and your work, financial, and family situation. Just as with any position, much of the learning and education can take place once you are out in the real world and practicing your vocation.
In some cases, you might be able to enter the paralegal field without benefit of a previous education. Not all employers however, may require a degree or certification in the field to work at the entry level. That doesn’t mean though that a degree or certificate might not be beneficial, and there are a number of ways to go about beginning your education if this is indeed the route you choose to go.
When entering paralegal studies in Los Angeles or the southern California area, you may find yourself faced with a variety of decisions to make. First off, deciding whether a certification program, associate’s degree or four-year degree is best for your present situation and past educational and work background can be important. If you already have a four-year degree, a certificate program might suffice. However, without previous educational or work experience, it might be helpful to have the weight of an associate’s or four-year degree behind you as you venture into the working world. Then you’ll most likely have to decide whether the online or campus-based educational route is most beneficial to your situation. Whether you stay in the LA area or not, you’ll may be faced with a variety of academic institutions from which to choose. There are plenty of brick-and-mortar schools in and around the Los Angeles area as well as state and nationwide. And if you decide to go with an online program, you may have options that spread beyond the Los Angeles area and around the country.
To help you with these decisions, our site not only provides you with hundreds of accredited schools and certificate programs options from which to choose, but we offer tools to help you narrow your selection by field of study, program type, location, and similar criteria. For more about the paralegal and legal assistant world, please take a moment to visit our Paralegal Resource Guide.
Paralegal Job Outlook Nationally and in California
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for paralegals and legal assistants in 2010 was $46,680, and the job growth outlook for 2010-20 was competitive with other occupations at an 18 percent rate, which is actually about 4 percent higher than the growth rate for all occupations. With entry-level roles within the field possibly coming with lesser necessary educational background (a two-year or shorter certification program as opposed to a four-year degree), salaries appear quite competitive, especially in California.
To delve a little deeper into the regional aspects of the job statistics, let’s take a look at the number for California specifically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages report for May 2011 ranks California as the top state in employment level for paralegals and legal assistants. This job category in California ranked second among states, just behind Washington D.C. for mean wage with an annual rate of $59,030.