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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs

Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Anthem AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few 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 School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Anthem AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.

What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school 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 call several Anthem AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.

Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Anthem AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.

Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Anthem AZ area.

How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Anthem AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Anthem 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 select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.

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