How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Clarkdale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Clarkdale AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Clarkdale residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices 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 positions and responsibilities, just 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 help Clarkdale AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos 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 manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Clarkdale AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, 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 can not only help increase your employment 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Clarkdale AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Clarkdale AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
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 new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Clarkdale AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Clarkdale AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose 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 look at those schools that are within the Clarkdale AZ area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Clarkdale AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Clarkdale AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Clarkdale AZ?
If you live near Clarkdale 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.
Clarkdale (Yavapai: Saupkasuiva) is a town in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. The Verde River flows through the town as does Bitter Creek, an intermittent tributary of the river. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 4,097.
Clarkdale was founded in 1912 as a company smelter town by William A. Clark, for his copper mine in nearby Jerome. Clarkdale was one of the most modern mining towns in the world, including telephone, telegraph, electrical, sewer and spring water services, and was an early example of a planned community. The Clark Mansion, a local landmark, was built in the late 1920s by William Clark III, Clark's grandson and heir to the United Verde Copper Company. The structure, east of town across the Verde River near Pecks Lake, was destroyed in 2010 by a fire of "suspicious" origin.
The town center and business district were built in Spanish Colonial style, and feature the Clark Memorial Clubhouse and Memorial Library, both still in use. The Clubhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The entire original town site is also on the National Register as the Clarkdale Historic District.
Online Degree Paralegal Clarkdale AZ
Enrolling in the best paralegal studies certificate program is a crucial 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 Online Degree Paralegal. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Clarkdale home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Clarkdale AZ.
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