How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Kearny Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kearny AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their Kearny homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Kearny AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular 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 firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly 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 launch your career as a legal assistant in Kearny AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Kearny AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors to think about as well, including 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 considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Kearny AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Kearny AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Kearny AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those schools that are within the Kearny AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Kearny AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Kearny AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Kearny AZ?
If you live near Kearny 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.
Kearny is a town in Pinal County, Arizona, United States. The town was named after General Stephen Watts Kearny, who passed through the area on November 7, 1846, while leading 100 dragoons to California. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 1,950. The economic base of Kearny and nearby towns is the Ray mine and Hayden Smelter, both owned and operated by ASARCO.
Kearny was built by the Kennecott Mining Company in 1958 as a planned community to accommodate the populations of nearby Ray, Sonora and Barcelona, which were about to be swallowed by Kennecott's expanding open-pit copper mine. While many of houses in the town were newly built, some mine employees had their homes moved down the road. Kearny was officially incorporated in 1959.
The town sits near the Gila River in the Copper Basin area along with its sister cities, Hayden and Winkelman. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2), all of it land.
Choose the Ideal Legal Assistant Degree Program near Kearny AZ
Enrolling in the right 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 option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Kearny residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Kearny AZ.
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