How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Bullhead City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Bullhead City AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Bullhead City homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices 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 roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Bullhead City AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as 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. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative 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 handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly 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 Bullhead City AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Bullhead City AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out 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 as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Bullhead City AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Bullhead City AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Bullhead City AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Bullhead City AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Bullhead City AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Bullhead City AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Bullhead City AZ?
If you live near Bullhead City 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.
Bullhead City, Arizona
Bullhead City is a city located on the Colorado River in Mohave County, Arizona, United States, roughly 90 mi (140 km) south of Las Vegas, Nevada, and directly across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada, whose casinos and ancillary services supply much of the employment for Bullhead City. Bullhead City is located on the southern border of Lake Mohave. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 39,540. The nearby communities of Laughlin, Needles, California, Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley bring the Bullhead area's total population to about 100,000, making it the largest micropolitan area in Mohave County.
In 2011, the Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport was named Airport of the Year by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The latest figures indicate that "...more than 115,000 people flew into Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport on casino-sponsored charters in 2010." In the 1980s the airport was home to the helicopters of the TV show Airwolf.
The earliest inhabitants of the Colorado River Valley were the Mojave people. The rich soil and plentiful water provided the valley's natives with the necessities to create a prosperous farming community. According to Mojave legend, life began on Spirit Mountain, the highest peak visible from the Bullhead City area.
Choose the Best Legal Assistant College near Bullhead City AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying 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 Bullhead City home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Bullhead City AZ.
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