How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program Near Kingman Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Kingman AZ and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it's important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for schools within commuting range of their Kingman residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let's take 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 fill the same job positions and functions, just 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 legal assistants and paralegals assist Kingman AZ attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal's work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer's. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Kingman AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to Kingman AZ students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example 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 may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Kingman AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Kingman AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Kingman AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Kingman AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great 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 from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Kingman AZ area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Kingman AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Kingman AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Kingman Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Selecting the right paralegal certificate program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Kingman residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Kingman Arizona.