How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Program near Duncan Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Duncan AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Duncan residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Duncan AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Duncan AZ is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Duncan AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. 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 already discussed, there are other important factors to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Duncan AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Duncan AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Duncan AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. 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 might wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Duncan AZ area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Duncan AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Duncan AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Duncan AZ?
If you live near Duncan Arizona or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Duncan is in the Gila River valley, 4 miles (6 km) west of the Arizona-New Mexico border. The town limits are on both sides of the Gila, but the primary portion of the town and the entire downtown area lie on the south side of the river. Duncan was founded in the mid 19th century, and the land was added to the United States as a part of the Mexican Cession. The town of Duncan has been destroyed twice by flood and once by fire.
The town and area are primarily populated by ranchers and miners (especially from the Freeport-McMoran copper mines in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico). Surrounding smaller towns such as Franklin and York in Arizona and Virden, New Mexico, use Duncan public works and public schools. The Duncan area along the Gila River is renowned for Native American artifacts such as arrow heads, pottery, burial sites, cave paintings and other remnants of the Anasazi and other pre-historic cultures, as well as artifacts from garrison camps of the expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, but grew up near Duncan on the Lazy B ranch, which straddles the border between Arizona and New Mexico. The Day family ran the ranch for many years until selling it; it continues to be run as a ranch. O'Connor later wrote a book titled Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest about her childhood experiences on the ranch with her brother H. Alan Day.
Diploma Of Legal Studies Duncan AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree school is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Diploma Of Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Duncan residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Duncan AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest