How to Find the Best Paralegal Course Near Doney Park Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Doney Park AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it's essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Doney Park residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let's have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Doney Park AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney's. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Doney Park AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to Doney Park AZ students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Doney Park AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to research also, such as 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 programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Doney Park AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program 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 determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Doney Park AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Doney Park AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Doney Park AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Doney Park AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Doney Park AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Doney Park Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Selecting the ideal legal assistant certificate school is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Doney Park residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective 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 evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Doney Park Arizona.