How to Find the Best Paralegal Studies Program Near Flowing Wells Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Flowing Wells AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it's important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Flowing Wells homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let's have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Flowing Wells AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney's. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Flowing Wells AZ is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and may be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to Flowing Wells AZ students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Flowing Wells AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few 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 Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive 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 as well. Many Flowing Wells AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select 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 some Flowing Wells AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if 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 give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Flowing Wells AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Flowing Wells AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure 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 obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Flowing Wells AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Flowing Wells AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Flowing Wells Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Selecting the right paralegal studies training school is an essential first step to guarantee 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 attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Flowing Wells residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Flowing Wells Arizona.