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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs

Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Catalina 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 degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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 Catalina AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.

What's the School's Reputation? Research 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 profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Catalina AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Catalina AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.

Where is the School's Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Catalina AZ area.

What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don't forget to check with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Catalina AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Catalina AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.

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