How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Ajo Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ajo AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Ajo homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill 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 belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Ajo AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Ajo AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Ajo AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal 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 can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Ajo AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Ajo AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Ajo AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Ajo AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Ajo AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Ajo 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 enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated 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 Ajo AZ?
If you live near Ajo 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.
Ajo (/ˈɑːhoʊ/ AH-hoh; O'odham: Moik Wahia or O'odham: ʼOʼoho) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. The population was 3,304 at the 2010 census. Ajo is located on State Route 85 just 43 miles (69 km) from the Mexican border. It is the closest community to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
Ajo is the Spanish word for garlic (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈaxo]). The Spanish may have named the place using the familiar word in place of the similar-sounding O'odham word for paint (oʼoho). The Tohono O'odham people obtained red paint pigments from the area.
Native Americans, Spaniards, and Americans have all extracted mineral wealth from Ajo's abundant ore deposits. In the early nineteenth century, there was a Spanish mine nicknamed "Old Bat Hole" that was abandoned due to Indian raids. Tom Childs, Sr., found the deserted mine complete with a 60-foot (18 m) shaft, mesquite ladders, and rawhide buckets in 1847. He did not stay long at that time, because he was on his way to the silver mines near Magdalena de Kino, Sonora.
Online Paralegal Studies Programs Ajo AZ
Choosing the right legal assistant training school is an essential 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 Online Paralegal Studies Programs. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Ajo residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Ajo AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest