How to Choose the Right Paralegal Course Near Eloy Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Eloy AZ and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it's crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Eloy residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let's have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Eloy AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney's. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training 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 fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Eloy AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and can be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to Eloy AZ students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Eloy AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Eloy AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as 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 Eloy AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Eloy AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within the Eloy AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Eloy AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Eloy AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Eloy Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Choosing the best legal assistant training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Eloy residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Eloy Arizona.