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What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Nogales AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most 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 important aspects to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Nogales AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Nogales AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Nogales AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Nogales AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Nogales AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Nogales AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.