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Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs

Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the New River AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. 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 critical factors to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.

Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of New River AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.

What's the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming 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 determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few New River AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the New River AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the New River AZ region.

How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending 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 add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so don't forget to talk to the school's financial aid department to see what is available in New River AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near New River AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.

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