How to Select 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 lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it's crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Kingman homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let's take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Kingman AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal's work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney's. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Kingman AZ is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to Kingman AZ students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools 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 caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Kingman AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Kingman AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided 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 offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Kingman AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Kingman AZ region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Kingman AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Kingman AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Kingman Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program
Choosing the right legal assistant certificate school is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Kingman residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Kingman Arizona.