How to Find a Paralegal Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Lake Havasu City AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Lake Havasu City residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold 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 different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Lake Havasu City AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining 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 Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded 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 focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Lake Havasu City AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Lake Havasu City AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Lake Havasu City AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement 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 substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those schools that are within the Lake Havasu City AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Lake Havasu City AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Lake Havasu City AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Lake Havasu City AZ?
If you live near Lake Havasu City 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.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Lake Havasu City is a city in Mohave County, Arizona, United States. According to 2010 census, the population of the town is 52,527 people. It is served by Lake Havasu City Airport. Lake Havasu City is geographically isolated from the other cities in Mohave County and is the southernmost community of the Las Vegas–Henderson, NV–AZ combined statistical area.
The community first started as an Army Air Corps rest camp, called "Site Six," during World War II on the shores of Lake Havasu. In 1958, American businessman Robert P. McCulloch purchased 3,353 acres (13.57 km2) of property on the east side of the lake along Pittsburgh Point, the peninsula that eventually would be transformed into "the Island."
After four years of planning, McCulloch Properties acquired another 13,000 acres of federal land in the surrounding area. Lake Havasu City was established on September 30, 1963, by a resolution of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors as the Lake Havasu Irrigation and Drainage District, making it a legal entity. (The act is referenced in resolution #63-12-1.) The city was incorporated in 1978.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Program near Lake Havasu City AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Lake Havasu City home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training 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 ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Lake Havasu City AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 8