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How to Enroll in the Best Paralegal School Near New Kingman Butler Arizona

New Kingman Butler Arizona woman paralegal consulting with client on cellphoneCongratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near New Kingman Butler AZ and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it's essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their New Kingman Butler residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let's take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

New Kingman Butler Arizona legal library

Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist New Kingman Butler AZ attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to 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 transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine activities can include:

  • Researching and fact checking cases
  • Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
  • Composing correspondence and legal papers
  • Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
  • Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
  • Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records

With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals 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 cases or clients than they could alone.

Paralegal Training and Certification

New Kingman Butler Arizona male paralegal on phone taking notes

As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in New Kingman Butler AZ is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate's Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For 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 earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can 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 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 discuss the advantages 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 Courses

New Kingman Butler Arizona woman student attending paralegal online classesOnline legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to New Kingman Butler AZ students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs

Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the New Kingman Butler AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many New Kingman Butler AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.

What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 call some New Kingman Butler AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, 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 practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the New Kingman Butler AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ 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 graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the New Kingman Butler AZ region.

What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in New Kingman Butler AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening 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 school you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About New Kingman Butler Online Paralegal Courses

Choose the Right New Kingman Butler Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program

Enrolling in the right legal assistant degree program is an important first step toward 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 participate online in the comfort and privacy of your New Kingman Butler home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in New Kingman Butler Arizona.


 

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