How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Program near Carefree Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Carefree AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive 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 more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by searching for schools within driving distance of their Carefree homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Carefree AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education 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 educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Carefree AZ is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Carefree AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Carefree AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Carefree AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Carefree AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Carefree AZ area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Carefree AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Carefree AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, 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 sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Carefree AZ?
If you live near Carefree 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.
Characterised as an upscale residential area, Carefree was conceived in the mid-1950s by business partners K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington as a master-planned community. Land sales commenced in 1955 and homebuilding started in 1958. Carefree was incorporated in 1984 to avoid annexation by neighboring Scottsdale.
The Carefree sundial, designed by architect Joe Wong and solar engineer John I. Yellott, was erected in the Sundial Circle plaza in 1959 and claims to be the "third largest sundial in the Western Hemisphere". The sundial, which points to the North Star, is made from a steel frame and covered in anodized copper. It measures 90 feet (27 m) in diameter. The metal gnomon, the shadow-casting portion of the dial, stands 35 feet (11 m) above the plaza and extends 72 feet (22 m).
Carefree was the long-time home of Southwestern Studios, originally built in 1968 as Fred Graham Studios by actor, stunt man, and Arizona Film Commissioner Fred Graham. The sprawling 160-acre (0.65 km2) desert property adjacent to North Scottsdale featured three state-of-the-art soundstages, edit bays, 35mm screening room, make-up, production facilities, western street and back lot. In the early 1970s, Stage 1 of the studio was used for The New Dick Van Dyke Show starring Dick Van Dyke, Hope Lange, Fannie Flagg, and Marty Brill. Stage 1 also was used for the filming of one of Orson Welles' last films, The Other Side of the Wind, with John Huston, Oja Kodar, Susan Strasberg, Bob Random and Peter Bogdanovich.
Colleges That Offer Paralegal Studies Carefree AZ
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important 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 Colleges That Offer Paralegal Studies. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Carefree home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Carefree AZ.
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