How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies School near Colorado City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Colorado City AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Colorado City residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, 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 Colorado City AZ attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties 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 daily tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. 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 paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially 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 way to begin your career as a paralegal in Colorado City AZ is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for 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 available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Colorado City AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include 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 already covered, there are other critical aspects to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Colorado City AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Colorado City AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Colorado City AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly 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 hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. 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 may wish to first consider those schools that are within the Colorado City AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Colorado City AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Colorado 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 enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Colorado City AZ?
If you live near Colorado 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.
Colorado City, Arizona
Colorado City is a town in Mohave County, Arizona, United States, and is located in a region known as the Arizona Strip. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 4,821. At least three Mormon fundamentalist sects are said to have been based there.
Colorado City, formerly known as Short Creek (or the Short Creek Community), was founded in 1913 by members of the Council of Friends, a breakaway group from the Salt Lake City-based The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The Council of Friends membership desired a remote location where they could practice plural marriage, which had been publicly abandoned by the LDS Church in 1890. On July 26, 1953, Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle sent troops into the settlement to stop polygamy in what became known as the Short Creek raid. The two-year legal battle that followed became a public relations disaster that damaged Pyle's political career and set a hands-off tone toward the town in Arizona for the next 50 years.
After the death of Joseph W. Musser, the community split into two groups: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stayed in Short Creek, while the Apostolic United Brethren relocated to Bluffdale, Utah. The FLDS changed the name of the community to Colorado City (on the Arizona side of the border) and Hildale (on the Utah side) to eliminate any ties to the Short Creek raids.
Online Courses For Paralegal Colorado City AZ
Enrolling in the best paralegal studies training program is a vital 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 Courses For Paralegal. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Colorado City home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Colorado City AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest