How to Enroll in the Best Paralegal Studies Course Near Anthem Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Anthem AZ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it's crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive 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 more and more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Anthem residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let's have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Anthem AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney's. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Anthem AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to Anthem AZ students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least 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 looking into are accredited by a respected agency, such as 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 may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating 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 in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Anthem AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Anthem AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear 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 Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Anthem AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Anthem AZ region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Anthem AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Anthem AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Anthem Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Choosing the best legal assistant degree school is a vital 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 privacy and comfort of your Anthem home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school 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, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Anthem Arizona.