How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Douglas Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Douglas AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Douglas homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Douglas AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Douglas AZ is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Douglas AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Douglas AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming 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 confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Douglas AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Douglas AZ legal field. 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 after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within the Douglas AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Douglas AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate 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 Douglas AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible 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 expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Douglas AZ?
If you live near Douglas 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.
Douglas is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States that lies in the north-west to south-east running Sulpher Springs Valley. Douglas has a border crossing with Mexico at Agua Prieta and a history of mining.
The Douglas area was first settled by the Spanish in the 18th century. Presidio de San Bernardino was established in 1776 and abandoned in 1780. It was located a few miles east of present-day Douglas. The United States Army established Camp San Bernardino in the latter half of the 19th century near the presidio, and in 1910 Camp Douglas was built next to the town.
Douglas was founded as an American smelter town, to treat the copper ores of nearby Bisbee, Arizona. The town is named after mining pioneer Dr. James Douglas and was incorporated in 1905. Two copper smelters operated at the site. The Calumet and Arizona Company Smelter was built in 1902. The Copper Queen operated in Douglas from 1904 until 1931, when the Phelps Dodge Corporation purchased the Calumet and Arizona Company and took over their smelter. The Calumet and Arizona smelter then became the Douglas Reduction Works. Douglas was the site of the Phelps-Dodge Corporation Douglas Reduction Works until its closure in 1987. The smoke stacks of the smelter were not taken down until January 13, 1991. The town was a site of the Arizona Copper Mine Strike of 1983.
Bachelor Legal Studies Douglas AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal training school is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Bachelor Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Douglas residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection 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 schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Douglas AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest