How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Morristown Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Morristown AZ and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive 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 more and more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Morristown homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective 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 what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions 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 Morristown AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining 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 authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education 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 fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Morristown AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 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.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Morristown AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation 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 thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Morristown AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Morristown AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Morristown AZ legal community. Find out 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 available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose 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 need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Morristown AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Morristown AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Morristown 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 enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more popular and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Morristown AZ?
If you live near Morristown 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.
Much of Morristown is within the municipal planning area of Surprise, and Surprise intends to eventually annex the area. The portion of Morristown south of US 60, however, exists in small area between the planning areas of Surprise, Buckeye and Wickenburg, where neither city has yet expressed a planned interest in expanding. This area is named after Morristown, New Jersey.
As of the census of 2010, there were 227 people residing in the CDP. The population density was 508.1 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the CDP was 96.48% White, 0.44% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 2.20% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. 4.85% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
The Morristown Hotel / Store was built in 1899 and is located at U.S. Route 89 NW Castle Springs Road, Morristown, Arizona. The hotel was built by Frank Murphy, brother of the territorial governor Nathan Oakes Murphy. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on August 12, 1991, reference # 91001003.
Choose the Right Legal Assistant College near Morristown AZ
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Morristown home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Morristown AZ.
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