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Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Goodyear AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Goodyear AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program 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 call several Goodyear AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Goodyear AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable 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? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Goodyear AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Goodyear AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Goodyear AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.