How to Choose the Right Paralegal Training Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Fountain Hills AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Fountain Hills homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be considered also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available 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 roles 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 category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Fountain Hills AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay 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 complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals 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 lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Fountain Hills AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Fountain Hills AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate 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 previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Fountain Hills AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Fountain Hills AZ law offices that you may have an interest 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 rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Fountain Hills AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification 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 look at those colleges that are within the Fountain Hills AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Fountain Hills AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Fountain Hills AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary 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 discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Fountain Hills AZ?
If you live near Fountain Hills 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.
Fountain Hills, Arizona
Fountain Hills is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. Known for its impressive fountain, once the tallest in the world, it borders on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Scottsdale, Arizona. The population is 22,489, as of the 2010 census. Between the 1990 and 2000 censuses it was the eighth-fastest-growing place among cities and towns in Arizona.
In the early 1900's, the area that became Fountain Hills and the McDowell Mountain Regional Park was part of the Pemberton Ranch, later renamed the P Bar Ranch. Fountain Hills High School is built on the site of one of the P Bar Ranch's buildings, and a plaque stands in the parking lot to commemorate this.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.2 square miles (47.1 km2), of which 18.1 square miles (46.9 km2) is land and 0.1 square mile (0.26 km2) (0.55%) is water.
Paralegal Distance Learning Fountain Hills AZ
Enrolling in the best paralegal studies certificate program is a vital 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 Paralegal Distance Learning. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Fountain Hills home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Fountain Hills AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
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