How to Find the Right Paralegal Course 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 gratifying profession in legal services. However, it's important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Kingman residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let's take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Kingman AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal's work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite 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 they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Kingman AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to Kingman AZ students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Kingman AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Kingman AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Kingman AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Kingman AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial 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 advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Kingman AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Kingman AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Kingman AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Kingman Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Enrolling in the best legal assistant certificate school is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Kingman home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Kingman Arizona.