How to Pick the Right Paralegal Training Program near Lake Montezuma Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lake Montezuma AZ and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Lake Montezuma homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational 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 positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Lake Montezuma AZ attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Lake Montezuma AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose 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 job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Lake Montezuma AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Lake Montezuma AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, 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 some Lake Montezuma AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Lake Montezuma AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer 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 finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing 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 good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create 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 desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Lake Montezuma AZ region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Lake Montezuma AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Lake Montezuma AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Lake Montezuma AZ?
If you live near Lake Montezuma 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.
Lake Montezuma, Arizona
Lake Montezuma is a census-designated place (CDP) in Yavapai County in the U.S. state of Arizona. The population was 3,344 at the 2000 census. The CDP includes the communities of Rimrock and McGuireville. Located along Interstate 17, it is 20 miles (32 km) south of Sedona and 8 miles (13 km) north of Camp Verde in central Arizona's Verde Valley.
Wales Arnold, the first settler along Beaver Creek, came to Beaver Creek in 1870 and lived at what became known as The Montezuma Well Ranch. Arnold, who came to Arizona as a member of the California Column during the Civil War ultimately became the sutler or civilian merchant of the firm Arnold and Bowers at Camp Lincoln following his discharge from the Army at Fort Whipple August 29, 1864. His partner in this enterprise was George Bowers who was killed by Indians near the head of Copper Canyon while en route to Prescott alongside a young soldier named Robert Nix. Arnold held several hay contracts with the Army at Camp Lincoln (renamed Fort Verde in 1868) and grew the first alfalfa known to be grown in the Verde Valley. The Montezuma Well Ranch served as a way station where mail riders changed horses when the mail began to be carried from Fort Whipple to Fort Wingate.
The part of the community known as McGuireville began in 1910 when Eugene McGuire settled near the confluence of Dry Beaver Creek and Wet Beaver Creek. This was also at the junction of the historic road from Stoneman Lake which split there with one route going on to Cornville, Cottonwood and Jerome and the other going south to Camp Verde and on to Prescott via Copper Canyon or Cherry. Eugene McGuire along with his son Gene homesteaded there beginning in 1910. Their small store and gas station was supplanted by another store operated by Midge Montgomery who started Beaver Creek Store there in 1931.
How to Choose Paralegal Certificate Programs Lake Montezuma AZ
Choosing the right paralegal degree 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 How to Choose Paralegal Certificate Programs. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Lake Montezuma residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Lake Montezuma AZ.
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