How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Course Near Casas Adobes Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Casas Adobes AZ and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it's essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Casas Adobes homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let's have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Casas Adobes AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice 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 practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Casas Adobes AZ is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to Casas Adobes AZ students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Casas Adobes AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Casas Adobes AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Casas Adobes AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Casas Adobes AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically 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 graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Casas Adobes AZ region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned 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 books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Casas Adobes AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Casas Adobes AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Casas Adobes Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Casas Adobes home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available 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 impact on your opportunities 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 succeed 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 provided you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Casas Adobes Arizona.