How to Enroll in the Best Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program Near Corona De Tucson Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Corona De Tucson AZ and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it's crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Corona De Tucson homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let's have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Corona De Tucson AZ attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Corona De Tucson AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations in the profession 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more common and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to Corona De Tucson AZ students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive 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 example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Corona De Tucson AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many 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 significant factors to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Corona De Tucson AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Corona De Tucson AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Corona De Tucson AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Corona De Tucson AZ area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Corona De Tucson AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Corona De Tucson AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Corona De Tucson Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Selecting the best paralegal degree school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Corona De Tucson residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Corona De Tucson Arizona.