How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Dewey Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Dewey AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Dewey homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Dewey AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really 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 volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Dewey AZ is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Dewey AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add 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 commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Dewey AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Dewey AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among 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 enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Dewey AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Dewey AZ area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Dewey AZ. Of course 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? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Dewey AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Dewey AZ?
If you live near Dewey 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.
Dewey-Humboldt is a town in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. The population of the town was 3,894 according to the 2010 census. The Dewey-Humboldt area was a census-designated place (CDP) at the 2000 census, at which time its population was 6,295.
Dewey-Humboldt was incorporated on December 20, 2004, from the existing unincorporated towns of Dewey and Humboldt, located adjacent to one another in the Agua Fria River Valley, 15 miles east of Prescott.
After discovery of gold on Lynx Creek in the spring of 1863, the Dewey area was settled around the summer 1863 by pioneer prospector, rancher and Indian-fighter King Woolsey (1832–1879), who founded the Agua Fria Ranch, in what was then known as "Woolsey Valley," to supply the miners. Woolsey used stones from a prehistoric ruin to build his ranch house, built an irrigation system off the Agua Fria (probably part of a prehistoric system), and introduced some of the first cattle into newly organized Yavapai County (1864). At the "falls" of the Agua Fria at present Humboldt, Woolsey built a small quartz mill to work gold ores from the nearby hills and a small water-powered grist mill. During 1864, he led the storied Woolsey Expeditions to the east in retaliatory raids on Apache and in search of gold; all failed to find a new Eldorado. All these activities caused his bankruptcy, and sale of the ranch property to the Bowers Brothers, sutlers at Fort Whipple. The brothers continued to use the house and farm the lands to supply the region with corn, barley, and other agricultural products. (The ruins of Woolsey's ranch house can still be seen between the old Black Canyon Highway and the Agua Fria River about one mile north of Humboldt. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.)
Choose the Ideal Paralegal College near Dewey AZ
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Dewey residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Dewey AZ.
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