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Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Cave Creek AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Cave Creek AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good 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 Cave Creek AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor 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 an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Cave Creek AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer 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 probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire 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 might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Cave Creek AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Cave Creek AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Cave Creek AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.