How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Holbrook Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Holbrook AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for schools within driving range of their Holbrook homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Holbrook AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Holbrook AZ is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want 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 maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Holbrook AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Holbrook AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable 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 field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as 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 Holbrook AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Holbrook AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing 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 good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within the Holbrook AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Holbrook AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Holbrook AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more 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 program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Holbrook AZ?
If you live near Holbrook 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.
Holbrook (Navajo: Tʼiisyaakin) is a city in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city was 5,053. The city is the county seat of Navajo County.
The Holbrook area was inhabited first by the Anasazi, then Puebloans, then the Navajo and Apache. In 1540 (some seventy years before Jamestown or the Pilgrims) Coronado searched for the Seven Cities of Cibola and camped some sixty miles east of Holbrook. Coronado sent an expedition west to find the Colorado River, and they crossed the Little Colorado some twenty-five miles east of Holbrook and found a wonderland of colors they named "El Desierto Pintada" - The Painted Desert. The expedition was then led by the Hopis to the Grand Canyon.
After the Mexican–American War ended in 1848 the area was ceded to the United States. From 1851 to 1857 the U.S. Army sent three expeditions along the 35th parallel, the third led by Lt. Beale who created a ten foot wide wagon road. The area was known as Navajo Springs, after a spring a dozen miles northeast of Holbrook. Soon afterwards a store and saloon were established at the confluence of the Rio Puerco and Little Colorado Rivers two miles east of Holbrook, and the area became known as Horsehead Crossing.
Choose the Ideal Legal Assistant Degree Program near Holbrook AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Holbrook residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Holbrook AZ.
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