How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Congress Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Congress AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their Congress homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to 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.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Congress AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys 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. However, what they are not legally permitted 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 functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Congress AZ is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed 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 career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 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 legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Congress AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Congress AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Congress AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Congress AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within the Congress AZ area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Congress AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Congress AZ, make certain 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 provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more 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 considering are accredited by a respected 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 could be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Congress AZ?
If you live near Congress 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.
Congress is a census-designated place (CDP) in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. Once a gold-mining center and then a ghost town, Congress now serves as a retirement and bedroom community for nearby Wickenburg. The population was 1,717 at the 2000 census.
Gold was discovered at Congress in 1884. By 1893, the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway passed within three miles of the mine, at Congress Junction. Congress boomed, and remained prosperous until the mid-1930s, when the mines closed. Total gold production at the Congress Mine exceeded $8 million, at the then-current price of $20.67 per ounce—or about $400 million, at the 2007 price.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 37.7 square miles (98 km2), of which, 37.6 square miles (97 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.08%) is water.
Find the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Congress AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Congress home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Congress AZ.
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