How to Select the Right Paralegal Program near Marana Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Marana AZ and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for schools within commuting range of their Marana residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into account also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Marana AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. 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 otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 launch your career as a legal assistant in Marana AZ is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Marana AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can 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 most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School 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 program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Marana AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Marana AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Marana AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. 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 indication that the schools have sizable 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? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Marana AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Marana AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Marana AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular and may be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss 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 looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Marana AZ?
If you live near Marana 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.
Marana is a town in Pima County, Arizona, located northwest of Tucson, with a small portion in Pinal County. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 34,961. From 1990 to 2000, Marana was the fourth fastest-growing place among all cities and towns in Arizona of any size.
Archaeologists have found evidence of about 4,200 years of continuous human settlement in the vicinity of Marana and the middle Santa Cruz Valley. Many important archaeological sites have been found near Marana.
Spanish colonists began to inhabit this area in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over time they intermarried with Native American and a class of mestizo settlers also developed. From the early years, mining and ranching were the chief economic activities. The area became part of the independent Mexican Empire established in 1821 (soon replaced by the Republic of Mexico).
How to Become a Paralegal Online Marana AZ
Choosing the right paralegal studies certificate program 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 How to Become a Paralegal Online. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Marana residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Marana AZ.
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