How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Colorado City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Colorado City AZ and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require 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 options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Colorado City homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 Colorado City AZ attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions 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 manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Colorado City AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Colorado City AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important issues to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Colorado City AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Colorado City AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Colorado City AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want 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 might want to first look at those colleges that are within the Colorado City AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Colorado City AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Colorado City AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more common and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Colorado City AZ?
If you live near Colorado City 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.
Colorado City, Arizona
Colorado City is a town in Mohave County, Arizona, United States, and is located in a region known as the Arizona Strip. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 4,821. At least three Mormon fundamentalist sects are said to have been based there.
Colorado City, formerly known as Short Creek (or the Short Creek Community), was founded in 1913 by members of the Council of Friends, a breakaway group from the Salt Lake City-based The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The Council of Friends membership desired a remote location where they could practice plural marriage, which had been publicly abandoned by the LDS Church in 1890. On July 26, 1953, Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle sent troops into the settlement to stop polygamy in what became known as the Short Creek raid. The two-year legal battle that followed became a public relations disaster that damaged Pyle's political career and set a hands-off tone toward the town in Arizona for the next 50 years.
After the death of Joseph W. Musser, the community split into two groups: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stayed in Short Creek, while the Apostolic United Brethren relocated to Bluffdale, Utah. The FLDS changed the name of the community to Colorado City (on the Arizona side of the border) and Hildale (on the Utah side) to eliminate any ties to the Short Creek raids.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Colorado City AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Colorado City home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available 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 profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Colorado City AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
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