How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program Near New Kingman Butler Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near New Kingman Butler AZ and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it's important that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their New Kingman Butler homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let's have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist New Kingman Butler AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in New Kingman Butler AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and may be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to New Kingman Butler AZ students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing 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 environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Questions 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 begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the New Kingman Butler AZ area, as well as trade and vocational 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 the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many New Kingman Butler AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few New Kingman Butler AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the New Kingman Butler AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. 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 an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those colleges that are within the New Kingman Butler AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in New Kingman Butler AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near New Kingman Butler AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right New Kingman Butler Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Selecting the ideal legal assistant training school is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your New Kingman Butler residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in New Kingman Butler Arizona.