How to Enroll in the Right 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 lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it's important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Globe homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess 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 educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Globe AZ lawyers with a diverse array 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 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 documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Globe AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to Globe AZ students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Globe AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Globe AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including 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. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Globe AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Globe AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Globe AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Globe AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Globe Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Enrolling in the best paralegal studies certificate 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 attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Globe home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review 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.