How to Choose the Best Paralegal Course Near Fort Mohave Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Fort Mohave AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it's crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Fort Mohave residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let's have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Fort Mohave AZ attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal's work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney's. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Fort Mohave AZ is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to Fort Mohave AZ students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Fort Mohave AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization 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 focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Fort Mohave AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including 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 Fort Mohave AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start developing contacts within the Fort Mohave AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area 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 might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Fort Mohave AZ region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Fort Mohave AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Fort Mohave AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Fort Mohave Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Selecting the ideal paralegal certificate program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Fort Mohave home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Fort Mohave Arizona.