How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Program near Buckeye Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Buckeye AZ and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Buckeye residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Buckeye AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents 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 perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other 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 permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys 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 arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Buckeye AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Buckeye AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Buckeye AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Buckeye AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Buckeye AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs 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 confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Buckeye AZ region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Buckeye AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Buckeye AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced 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 obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Buckeye AZ?
If you live near Buckeye 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.
Buckeye is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona and is the westernmost suburb in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The population was estimated at 68,453 in 2017. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US; in 2016, it placed seventh.
Early settler Malie M. Jackson developed 10 miles (16 km) of the Buckeye Canal from 1884 to 1886, which he named after his home state of Ohio's moniker, "The Buckeye State". The town was founded in 1888 and originally named "Sidney," after Jackson's home town in Ohio. However, because of the significance of the canal, the town became known as Buckeye. The name was legally changed to Buckeye in 1910. The town was incorporated in 1929, at which time it included 440 acres (180 ha). The town's first mayor was Hugh M. Watson (1956–1958), who founded the Buckeye Valley Bank. Today, Watson Road is the site of the city's commercial center.
In 2013, a video featuring a Verrado High School student who overcame Down's Syndrome to join the school's cheerleading squad, and using the Katy Perry song "Roar", was selected as a finalist in a Good Morning America contest.
Certificate Paralegal Buckeye AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal certificate program is an important 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 Certificate Paralegal. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Buckeye residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Buckeye AZ.
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