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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs

Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Coolidge AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Coolidge AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.

What's the Program's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Coolidge AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Coolidge AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success 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 confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within the Coolidge AZ area.

What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Coolidge AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Coolidge 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 enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.

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