How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Clifton Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Clifton AZ and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Clifton homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Clifton AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Clifton AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Clifton AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Clifton AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available 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 contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 some Clifton AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, 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 remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Clifton AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain 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 live outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Clifton AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Clifton AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Clifton AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Clifton AZ?
If you live near Clifton AZ or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Clifton is a town in and the county seat of Greenlee County, Arizona, United States, along the San Francisco River. The population of the town was 3,311 at the 2010 census, with a 2017 population estimate of 4,870 by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. It was a site of the Arizona copper mine strike of 1983.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.8 square miles (38.4 km2), of which 14.6 square miles (37.8 km2) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.6 km2), or 1.46%, is water. Clifton has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen BSh) that closely borders on both the hot desert climate and the cool semi-arid climate. There is a large degree of diurnal temperature variation. Summers are very hot and sometimes humid, with most rainfall coming from the monsoon between July and October. The wettest year was 2004 with 28.49 inches (723.6 mm) including 6.97 inches (177.0 mm) in August, whilst the driest year with a full record was 1924 with only 4.85 inches (123.2 mm) including a mere 1.98 inches (50.3 mm) between July and October. Winters are mild (though with very cold nights) and dry, with snow only recorded in fourteen years since 1892.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,596 people, 919 households, and 685 families residing in the town. The population density was 174.8 people per square mile (67.5/km²). There were 1,087 housing units at an average density of 73.2 per square mile (28.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 67.10% White, 0.96% Black or African American, 2.27% Native American, 0.04% Asian, 26.73% from other races, and 2.89% from two or more races. 55.86% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Right Legal Assistant College near Clifton AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Clifton residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Clifton AZ.
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