How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Page Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Page AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Page residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Page AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves 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 work, but a few of their regular activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. 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 limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Page AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Page AZ area, as well as 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 certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial aspects to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation 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 final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Page AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Page AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Page AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those schools that are within the Page AZ region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Page AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Page AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Page AZ?
If you live near Page 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.
Unlike other cities in the area, Page was founded in 1957 as a housing community for workers and their families during the construction of nearby Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. Its 17-square-mile (44 km2) site was obtained in a land exchange with the Navajo Nation. The city is perched atop Manson Mesa at an elevation of 4,300 feet (1,300 m) above sea level and 600 feet (180 m) above Lake Powell.
After the dam was completed in the 1960s, and was officially incorporated (March 1, 1975), the city grew steadily to today's population of over 7,000. Because of the new roads and bridge built for use during construction, it has become the gateway to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, attracting more than 3 million visitors per year. Page is also the home of two of the largest electrical generation units in the western United States. Glen Canyon Dam has a 1,288,000-kilowatt capacity when fully online. The other power plant to the southeast is the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired steam plant with an output capability of 2,250,000 kilowatts.
Page is located at 36°54′51″N 111°27′35″W / 36.91417°N 111.45972°W / 36.91417; -111.45972 (36.914296, -111.459717). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.6 square miles (43 km2), of which 16.6 square miles (43 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2), or 0.12%, is water.
Find the Best Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Page AZ
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed 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 Page home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Page AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest