How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Hayden Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Hayden AZ and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by searching for schools within driving distance of their Hayden homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Hayden AZ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved 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 confined to clerical or administrative duties 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Hayden AZ is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive 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 also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Hayden AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, such as 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 thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Hayden AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Hayden AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear 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 Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Hayden AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success 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 well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Hayden AZ area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Hayden AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Hayden AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss 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 thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Hayden AZ?
If you live near Hayden 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.
As of the census of 2000, there were 892 people, 288 households, and 222 families residing in the town. The population density was 707.1 people per square mile (273.3/km²). There were 334 housing units at an average density of 264.8 per square mile (102.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 56.95% White, 0.45% Black or African American, 1.68% Native American, 0.56% Pacific Islander, 35.09% from other races, and 5.27% from two or more races. 84.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 288 households out of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.5% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.9% were non-families. 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.56.
In the town, the population was spread out with 33.2% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.
Choose the Right Legal Assistant School near Hayden AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. 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 Hayden residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Hayden AZ.
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