Home >> Arizona >> New River >> Paralegal Schools


Receive Free Info on Paralegal Certificate and Degree Training New River AZ 85086

How to Pick the Right Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program Near New River Arizona

New River Arizona female paralegal speaking with client on cellphoneCongratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near New River AZ and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it's essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their New River residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let's have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

New River Arizona law books

Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist New River AZ attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer's. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily activities might include:

  • Investigating and fact checking cases
  • Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
  • Preparing correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
  • Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
  • Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records

With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.

Paralegal Training and Certification

New River Arizona male paralegal speaking on cellphone taking notes

As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in New River AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor's Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.

Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs

New River Arizona female student enrolled in paralegal online trainingParalegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to New River AZ students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs

Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the New River AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include 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 commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many New River AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.

What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several New River AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the New River AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.

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

Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the New River AZ region.

What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don't forget to talk to the school's financial aid department to see what is available in New River AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near New River AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About New River Online Paralegal Training

Choose the Right New River Paralegal Degree or Certificate Program

Choosing the best legal assistant degree school is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your New River residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in New River Arizona.


 

New River Paralegal Degree | Main | New River Paralegal Certificate