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What to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs

Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.

Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might 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 also. A number of Lake Havasu City AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.

What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Lake Havasu City AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Lake Havasu City AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Lake Havasu City AZ area.

What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Lake Havasu City AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lake Havasu City AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

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