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What to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs

Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Bisbee AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential 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 important factors to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Bisbee AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.

What's the School's Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Bisbee AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Bisbee AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs 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 large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.

Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within the Bisbee AZ area.

What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Bisbee AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Bisbee AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

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