How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Grand Canyon Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Grand Canyon AZ and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Grand Canyon residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Grand Canyon AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on 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 arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Grand Canyon AZ is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Grand Canyon AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Grand Canyon AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Grand Canyon AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Grand Canyon AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Grand Canyon AZ area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Grand Canyon AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Grand Canyon AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Grand Canyon AZ?
If you live near Grand Canyon 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.
The Grand Canyon (Hopi: Ongtupqa;Yavapai: Wi:kaʼi:la, Navajo: Tsékooh Hatsoh, Spanish: Gran Cañón) is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).
The canyon and adjacent rim are contained within Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Havasupai Indian Reservation and the Navajo Nation. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.
Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal College near Grand Canyon AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Grand Canyon home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of private and public 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 school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Grand Canyon AZ.
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