How to Enroll in the Best Paralegal Studies Certificate Program Near Globe Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Globe AZ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it's essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools within commuting range of their Globe residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let's have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Globe AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal's work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney's. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed 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 functions more suited 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 have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 launch your career as a paralegal in Globe AZ is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to Globe AZ students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Globe AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree 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 discussed, there are other important aspects to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating 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 choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Globe AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Globe AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Globe AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those schools that are within the Globe AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Globe AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have 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, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Globe Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Selecting the best legal assistant training school is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Globe home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds 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 selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Globe Arizona.