How to Select the Right Paralegal Training Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Lake Havasu City AZ and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Lake Havasu City homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Lake Havasu City AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Lake Havasu City AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment 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 school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out 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 the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized 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 targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Lake Havasu City AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Lake Havasu City AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating 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 exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Lake Havasu City AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Lake Havasu City AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Lake Havasu City AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Lake Havasu City AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students 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 supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Lake Havasu City AZ?
If you live near Lake Havasu City 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.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Lake Havasu City is a city in Mohave County, Arizona, United States. According to 2010 census, the population of the city was 52,527 people. It is served by Lake Havasu City Airport. Lake Havasu City is geographically isolated from the other cities in Mohave County and is the southernmost community of the Las Vegas–Henderson, NV–AZ combined statistical area.
The community first started as an Army Air Corps rest camp, called "Site Six". during World War II on the shores of Lake Havasu. In 1958, American businessman Robert P. McCulloch purchased 3,353 acres (13.57 km2) of property on the east side of the lake along Pittsburgh Point, the peninsula that eventually would be transformed into "the Island".
After four years of planning, McCulloch Properties acquired another 13,000 acres of federal land in the surrounding area. Lake Havasu City was established on September 30, 1963, by a resolution of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors as the Lake Havasu Irrigation and Drainage District, making it a legal entity. (The act is referenced in resolution #63-12-1.) The city was incorporated in 1978.
Paralegal Studies Degree Online Lake Havasu City AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal studies certificate school is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Studies Degree Online. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Lake Havasu City residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Lake Havasu City AZ.
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