How to Pick the Right Paralegal Course Near Globe Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Globe AZ and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it's important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Globe homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be considered too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, 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.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, 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 classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Globe AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal's work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney's. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys 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 complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Globe AZ is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned 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 choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate 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 program (we will address 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 paralegal or a legal assistant.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to Globe AZ students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Globe AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to think about as well, 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 properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Globe AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Globe AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Globe AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing 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 hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within the Globe AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so don't forget to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Globe AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Globe 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 enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Globe Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Choosing the best paralegal training school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Globe home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Globe Arizona.