How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Clarkdale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Clarkdale AZ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Clarkdale residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically 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 paralegals and legal assistants help Clarkdale AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, 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 standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in Clarkdale AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained 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 as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Clarkdale 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 if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected 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 focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Clarkdale AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including 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 Clarkdale AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Clarkdale AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 may need to initially investigate those schools that are within the Clarkdale AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Clarkdale AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Clarkdale AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and may be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Clarkdale AZ?
If you live near Clarkdale 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.
Clarkdale (Yavapai: Saupkasuiva) is a town in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. The Verde River flows through the town as does Bitter Creek, an intermittent tributary of the river. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 4,097.
Clarkdale was founded in 1912 as a company smelter town by William A. Clark, for his copper mine in nearby Jerome. Clarkdale was one of the most modern mining towns in the world, including telephone, telegraph, electrical, sewer and spring water services, and was an early example of a planned community. The Clark Mansion, a local landmark, was built in the late 1920s by William Clark III, Clark's grandson and heir to the United Verde Copper Company. The structure, east of town across the Verde River near Pecks Lake, was destroyed in 2010 by a fire of "suspicious" origin.
The town center and business district were built in Spanish Colonial style, and feature the Clark Memorial Clubhouse and Memorial Library, both still in use. The Clubhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The entire original town site is also on the National Register as the Clarkdale Historic District.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Training near Clarkdale AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Clarkdale home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Clarkdale AZ.
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