How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Gila Bend Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Gila Bend AZ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Gila Bend homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Gila Bend AZ attorneys 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 relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with 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 regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Gila Bend AZ is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Gila Bend AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective 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 aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Gila Bend AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field 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 an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Gila Bend AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Gila Bend AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Gila Bend AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Gila Bend AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Gila Bend AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Gila Bend AZ?
If you live near Gila Bend 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.
Gila Bend, Arizona
Gila Bend (/ˌhiːlə ˈbɛnd/; O'odham: Hila Wi:n), founded in 1872, is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. The town is named for an approximately 90-degree bend in the Gila River, which is near the community's current location. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 1,922.
The town of Gila Bend is situated near an ancient Hohokam village. Father Eusebio Francisco Kino was the first European to visit in 1699 on his first journey of exploration to the Colorado River. The Hohokam site along fertile banks of the Gila River had been abandoned and other tribes, lived in the vicinity. 132 Pima people lived in a rancheria called Oyadaibuc or as Kino named it San Felipe y Santiago del Oyadaibuc, near the modern town, and other Pima lived in three rancherias up river to the north mixed with the Cocomaricopa or Opa. During one of his three visits to Gila Bend, Kino counted 960 Opas living in their own rancherias down river to the west of Oyadaibuc as far as a few miles beyond Agua Caliente.:26–27 The Opa and Pima used the flood waters of the river to irrigate their crops. Oyadaibuc was also visited by Juan Bautista de Anza, commander of the Presidio at Tubac and founder of the city of San Francisco, and by Father Francisco Tomas Garces in 1774. As late as the 1820s Maricopa were living at Gila Bend. After the 1820s, the Maricopa, under relentless pressure from the Yuma and other tribes, and population loss from epidemics, had been compelled to leave the Gila Bend and join the Pima in the Middle Gila region. By the time of the California Gold Rush the Maricopa villages, were all located east of the Sierra Estrella, on the Gila River, below the Pima Villages.:111–112
During the Mexican–American War, the expeditions of Kearny (1846), Cooke (1847) and Graham (1847) passed through the area but found no village. Only Graham found corn stubble on the riverside with which to graze his cattle.:21–22 From 1849 what became the Southern Emigrant Trail passed through the area which by 1854 had acquired the name Tezotal or Tesotal, from name of the scientific name of the desert ironwood tree, (Olneya tesota) given it in the botanical report of the Boundary Survey along the Gila River led by William H. Emory.:117,132
Diploma In Legal Studies Gila Bend AZ
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Diploma In Legal Studies. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Gila Bend residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Gila Bend AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
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