How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Cave Creek Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Cave Creek AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Cave Creek residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Arizona Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Cave Creek AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for Cave Creek AZ lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous Cave Creek AZ area community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited Cave Creek AZ area program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular in Cave Creek AZ and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at Cave Creek AZ area community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to think about as well, such as 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 properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get 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 standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Cave Creek AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Arizona legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since Cave Creek AZ employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming 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 confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other Cave Creek AZ legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Cave Creek AZ legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local Cave Creek AZ legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within your local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Cave Creek AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Cave Creek AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Legal Assistant Program near Cave Creek AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Cave Creek residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Cave Creek AZ.
More About Cave Creek Arizona
Cave Creek, Arizona
There are various historic properties and artifacts in the town of Cave Creek. Located on the grounds of the Cave Creek Museum are the Tubercular Cabin, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the First Church of Cave Creek and Golden Reef Stamp Mill. Two of the historic properties have been converted into restaurants. They are the Cave Creek Service Station, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Cave Creek Inn. Frontier Town which has some of Cave Creeks original structures is also pictured.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.2 square miles (73 km2), all land. It is adjacent to the town of Carefree, and shares local landmark Black Mountain with Carefree.
There are two notable streams known as Cave Creek in Arizona. One flows through the Town of Cave Creek and into Phoenix. This may be the origin of the town's name. The other Cave Creek (Cave Creek Canyon) is in the Chiricahua Mountains, 200 miles to the southeast.
In 2000, the state of Arizona, Maricopa County, and the town of Cave Creek bought Spur Cross Ranch, a 2,154-acre (8.72 km2) tract of Sonoran desert just north of Phoenix, for $21 million. It had unusual cacti, stone formations, and hundreds of pre-history Hohokam Indian tribal artifacts, and is now a Maricopa County park.
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