How to Choose the Best Paralegal Studies Course Near Holbrook Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Holbrook AZ and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it's important that you find the right 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 educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Holbrook residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to 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.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Holbrook AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal's work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney's. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Holbrook AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous 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 certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to Holbrook AZ students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Holbrook AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Holbrook AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Holbrook AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Holbrook AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within the Holbrook AZ area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Holbrook AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Holbrook AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Holbrook Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Selecting the right legal assistant training school is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Holbrook residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Holbrook Arizona.