How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Palo Verde Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Palo Verde AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for schools within commuting range of their Palo Verde homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Palo Verde AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay 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 quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Palo Verde AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Palo Verde AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected 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 distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Palo Verde AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including 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 Palo Verde AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Palo Verde AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those schools that are within the Palo Verde AZ area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Palo Verde AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Palo Verde AZ, make sure 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 makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Palo Verde AZ?
If you live near Palo Verde 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.
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
The Palo Verde Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located near Tonopah, Arizona, in western Arizona. It is located about 45 miles (72 km) due west of downtown Phoenix, Arizona, and it is located near the Gila River, which is dry save for the rainy season in late summer.
The Palo Verde Generating Station is the largest power plant in the United States by net generation. Its average electric power production is about 3.3 gigawatts (GW), and this power serves about four million people. The Arizona Public Service Company (APS) operates and owns 29.1% of the plant. Its other major owners include the Salt River Project (17.5%), the El Paso Electric Company (15.8%), Southern California Edison (15.8%), PNM Resources (10.2%), the Southern California Public Power Authority (5.9%), and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (5.7%).
The Palo Verde Generating Station is located in the Arizona desert, and is the only large nuclear power plant in the world that is not located near a large body of water. The power plant evaporates the water from the treated sewage from several nearby cities and towns to provide the cooling of the steam that it produces.
Paralegal Degree Programs Palo Verde AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal studies degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Degree Programs. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Palo Verde home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive 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 final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Palo Verde AZ.
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