How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Ehrenberg Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ehrenberg AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Ehrenberg residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective 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 educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Ehrenberg AZ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Ehrenberg AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Ehrenberg AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know 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 most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Ehrenberg AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 some Ehrenberg AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Ehrenberg AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within the Ehrenberg AZ region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Ehrenberg AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Ehrenberg AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Ehrenberg AZ?
If you live near Ehrenberg 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.
Ehrenberg, also historically spelled "Ehrenburg" is a census-designated place (CDP) in La Paz County, Arizona, United States. The population was 1,470 at the 2010 census. Ehrenberg is named for its founder, Herman Ehrenberg.
Ehrenberg is located on the Colorado River, which forms the border with Riverside County, California, near the city of Blythe. It is situated close to Interstate 10, at the southern end of Parker Valley and next to the Palo Verde Valley.
In 1863, German mining engineer Herman Ehrenberg was hired to survey a new townsite along the Colorado River, approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) from La Paz, Arizona. The town, named Mineral City, began to grow in 1866, after a new landing was established there, supported by the steamboat captains of the George A. Johnson Company. Mineral City now attracted miners and many businessmen away from La Paz and by September 20, 1869 had grown large enough to win a post office. The same year it was renamed Ehrenberg.:96
Select the Ideal Paralegal Program near Ehrenberg AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered 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 Ehrenberg residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful 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 examine each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Ehrenberg AZ.
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