How to Pick a Paralegal School near New River Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near New River AZ and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their New River residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist New River AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers 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 role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, 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 discussed earlier, paralegals are basically 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 legal assistant in New River AZ is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the New River AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to consider as well, such as 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 researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of New River AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. 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. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some New River AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the New River AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good 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 state to state, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the New River AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in New River AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near New River AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss 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 thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near New River AZ?
If you live near New River 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.
New River, Arizona
New River is named after the seasonal wash of the same name, part of the Agua Fria River system which drains into the Salt River. It was founded by Lord Darrell Duppa in 1868 as a stagecoach stop. For many years it was the terminus of the old Black Canyon Highway (now Interstate 17). The pavement ended in New River and continued as a dirt road to the city of Prescott.
New River is located at 33°52′9″N 112°5′9″W / 33.86917°N 112.08583°W / 33.86917; -112.08583 (33.869149, −112.085759). It is bordered by the Tonto National Forest to the north, Cave Creek to the east, Phoenix to the south, and Anthem to the west. The CDP includes the area known as Desert Hills.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 70.8 square miles (183 km2), of which, 70.8 square miles (183 km2) of it is land and 0.01% is water. It includes both Daisy Mountain and Gavilan Peak.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Training near New River AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your New River residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in New River AZ.
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