How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Kingman Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kingman AZ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Kingman residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Kingman AZ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Kingman AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial 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 academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Kingman AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to think about as well, including 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 programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Kingman AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Kingman AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Kingman AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within the Kingman AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Kingman AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes 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 Kingman AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and may be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about 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 setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Kingman AZ?
If you live near Kingman 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.
Kingman (Huwaalyapay Nyava in the Mojave language) is a city in and the county seat of Mohave County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 28,068. The nearby communities of Butler, and Golden Valley bring the Kingman area total population to over 45,000. Kingman is located about 105 miles (169 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada and about 165 miles (266 km) northwest of the state capital, Phoenix.
Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a U.S. Navy officer in the service of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, was ordered by the U.S. War Department to build a federal wagon road across the 35th Parallel. His secondary orders were to test the feasibility of the use of camels as pack animals in the southwestern desert. Beale traveled through the present day Kingman in 1857 surveying the road and in 1859 to build the road. Beale's Wagon Road became part of Highway 66 and Interstate Highway 40. Remnants of the wagon road can still be seen in White Cliffs Canyon in Kingman.
Kingman, Arizona, was founded in 1882, when Arizona was still Arizona Territory. Situated in the Hualapai Valley between the Cerbat and Hualapai mountain ranges, Kingman is known for its very modest beginnings as a simple railroad siding near Beale’s Springs in the Middleton Section along the newly constructed route of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The city of Kingman was named for Lewis Kingman, who surveyed along the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad's right-of-way between Needles, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M. Lewis Kingman supervised the building of the railroad from Winslow, Ariz. to Beale's Springs, which is near the present location of the town of Kingman.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Kingman AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Kingman home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Kingman AZ.
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