How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Lake Montezuma Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lake Montezuma AZ and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Lake Montezuma residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Lake Montezuma AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. 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 practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Lake Montezuma AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment 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 school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential 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 idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Lake Montezuma AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, for instance 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 researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain 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 show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Lake Montezuma AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Lake Montezuma AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Lake Montezuma AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Lake Montezuma AZ area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Lake Montezuma AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Lake Montezuma AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Lake Montezuma AZ?
If you live near Lake Montezuma 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 Montezuma, Arizona
Lake Montezuma is a census-designated place (CDP) in Yavapai County in the U.S. state of Arizona. The population was 3,344 at the 2000 census. The CDP includes the communities of Rimrock and McGuireville. Located along Interstate 17, it is 20 miles (32 km) south of Sedona and 8 miles (13 km) north of Camp Verde in central Arizona's Verde Valley.
Wales Arnold, the first settler along Beaver Creek, came to Beaver Creek in 1870 and lived at what became known as The Montezuma Well Ranch. Arnold, who came to Arizona as a member of the California Column during the Civil War ultimately became the sutler or civilian merchant of the firm Arnold and Bowers at Camp Lincoln following his discharge from the Army at Fort Whipple August 29, 1864. His partner in this enterprise was George Bowers who was killed by Indians near the head of Copper Canyon while en route to Prescott alongside a young soldier named Robert Nix. Arnold held several hay contracts with the Army at Camp Lincoln (renamed Fort Verde in 1868) and grew the first alfalfa known to be grown in the Verde Valley. The Montezuma Well Ranch served as a way station where mail riders changed horses when the mail began to be carried from Fort Whipple to Fort Wingate.
The part of the community known as McGuireville began in 1910 when Eugene McGuire settled near the confluence of Dry Beaver Creek and Wet Beaver Creek. This was also at the junction of the historic road from Stoneman Lake which split there with one route going on to Cornville, Cottonwood and Jerome and the other going south to Camp Verde and on to Prescott via Copper Canyon or Cherry. Eugene McGuire along with his son Gene homesteaded there beginning in 1910. Their small store and gas station was supplanted by another store operated by Midge Montgomery who started Beaver Creek Store there in 1931.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Lake Montezuma AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Lake Montezuma home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, 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 profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Lake Montezuma AZ.
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