How to Select the Right Paralegal School near Ash Fork Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ash Fork AZ and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, 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 traveling range of their Ash Fork homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have 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
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Ash Fork AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather 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 confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited 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 are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Ash Fork AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Ash Fork AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously 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 a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Ash Fork AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 several Ash Fork AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Ash Fork AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those schools that are within the Ash Fork AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Ash Fork AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Ash Fork AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Ash Fork AZ?
If you live near Ash Fork 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.
Ash Fork, Arizona
Geologic places of interest include the Cathedral Caves which are approximately 10 miles (16 km) west of town off Arizona Road, and Dante's Descent, a 275-foot (84 m) deep sinkhole also known as "Devil's Hole", which is approximately five miles northwest of Ash Fork, off of Crookton Road. Unfortunately, after closure by the state, Dante's Descent cannot legally be visited by the public. Pictorial and historic documentation of the natural attraction may be found at the Ash Fork Library.
Ash Fork lies in close proximity to Kaibab National Forest and Coconino National Forest, and international attractions such as the Grand Canyon are approximately an hour's drive away using major roads. Service roads allow swifter access to back areas of Grand Canyon National Park, but may not be open to public thoroughfare.
Approximately 15 miles (24 km) to the north of Ash Fork is Beale Road, which has the distinction of being the first federally funded highway. The internationally renowned U.S. Route 66 also runs directly through the town. Notably, the longest original, uninterrupted stretch of Route 66 still in existence (approximately 9.6 miles (15.4 km) long) can be found between Ash Fork, Arizona, and Seligman, Arizona, beginning just beyond Ash Fork at Crookton Road. The surrounding geographical area and settlements served as inspiration for the 2006 Pixar film Cars.
Paralegal Graduate Programs Ash Fork AZ
Selecting the best paralegal studies training school is an important 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 Paralegal Graduate Programs. 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 Ash Fork residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Ash Fork AZ.
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