How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Cochise Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Cochise AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Cochise residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Cochise AZ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Cochise AZ is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Cochise AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential 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, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Cochise AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field 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 an excellent first step. Checking 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 contact some Cochise AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Cochise AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Cochise AZ area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Cochise AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Cochise AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Cochise AZ?
If you live near Cochise AZ 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.
Cochise County, Arizona
In 1528 Spanish Explorers: Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Estevanico, and Fray Marcos de Niza survived a shipwreck off Texas coast. Captured by Native Americans they spent 8 years finding their way back to Mexico City, via the San Pedro Valley. Their journals, maps, and stories lead to the Cibola, seven cities of gold myth. The Expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1539 using it as his route north through what they called the Guachuca Mountains of Pima (Tohono O'odham) lands and later part of the mission routes north, but was actually occupied by the Sobaipuri descendants of the Hohokam. They found a large Pueblo (described as a small city) between Benson and Whetstone, and several smaller satellite villages and smaller pueblos including ones on Fort Huachuca, Huachuca City and North Eastern Fry. About 1657 Father Kino visited the Sobaipuris just before the Apache forced most from the valley, as they were struggling to survive due to increasing Chiricahua Apache attacks as they moved into the area of Texas Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains. In 1776 The Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrante was founded on the West bank of the San Pedro River, to protect the natives as well as the Spanish settlers who supplied the mission stations, but it was chronically short on provisions from raids, and lack of personnel to adequately patrol the eastern route due to wars with France and England, so the main route north shifted west to the Santa Cruz valley, farther from the Chiricahua Apache's ranges who almost exclusively controlled the area by 1821.
Cochise County was created on February 1, 1881, out of the eastern portion of Pima County. It took its name from the legendary Chiricahua Apache war chief Cochise. The county seat was Tombstone until 1929 when it moved to Bisbee. Notable men who once held the position of County Sheriff were Johnny Behan, who served as the first sheriff of the new county, and who was one of the main characters during the events leading to and following the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Later, in 1886, Texas John Slaughter became sheriff. Lawman Jeff Milton and lawman/outlaw Burt Alvord both served as deputies under Slaughter.
A syndicated television series which aired from 1956 to 1958, Sheriff of Cochise starring John Bromfield, was filmed in Bisbee. The Jimmy Stewart movie Broken Arrow and subsequent television show of the same name starring John Lupton, which also aired from 1956 to 1958, took place (but was not filmed) in Cochise County.
Find the Best Paralegal Training near Cochise AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Cochise residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cochise AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
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