How to Pick the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Miami Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Miami AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their Miami homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account 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 each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, 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 Miami AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in Miami AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Miami AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly 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 organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Miami AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including 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 Miami AZ law offices 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 the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Miami AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within the Miami AZ region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Miami AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Miami AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Miami AZ?
If you live near Miami 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.
Miami (Western Apache: Goshtłʼish Tú) is a town in Gila County, Arizona, United States. Miami is a classic Western copper boom-town. Miami's old downtown has been partly renovated, and the Bullion Plaza Museum features the cultural, mining and ranching history of the Miami area.
Miami is adjacent to Globe, and near the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Miami, Globe, and the unincorporated areas nearby (including Inspiration, Claypool and Central Heights-Midland City) are commonly called Globe-Miami. The town is located on the northeastern slope of the Pinal Mountains, and is surrounded (except to the east) by the Tonto National Forest. It is located on U.S. Routes 60 and 70, and is served by the Arizona Eastern Railway.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,936 people, 754 households, and 493 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,008.0 people per square mile (778.6/km²). There were 930 housing units at an average density of 964.6 per square mile (374.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 74.74% White, 1.03% Black or African American, 1.45% Native American, 0.10% Asian, 20.40% from other races, and 2.27% from two or more races. 54.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Paralegal Certification Training Courses Miami AZ
Selecting the best paralegal certificate program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Certification Training Courses. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Miami residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability 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 Miami AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest