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What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Lake Montezuma AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential 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 significant aspects to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Lake Montezuma AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Lake Montezuma AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Lake Montezuma AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within the Lake Montezuma AZ region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Lake Montezuma AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lake Montezuma AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.