How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Cave Creek Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Cave Creek AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their Cave Creek residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job positions and functions, only 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 Cave Creek AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help 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 attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Cave Creek AZ is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Cave Creek AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose 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 online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Cave Creek AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 Cave Creek AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Cave Creek AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Cave Creek AZ region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Cave Creek AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Cave Creek 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 select provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and may be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Cave Creek AZ?
If you live near Cave Creek 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.
Cave Creek, Arizona
There are various historic properties and artifacts in the town of Cave Creek. Located on the grounds of the Cave Creek Museum are the Tubercular Cabin, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the First Church of Cave Creek and Golden Reef Stamp Mill. Two of the historic properties have been converted into restaurants. They are the Cave Creek Service Station, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Cave Creek Inn. Frontier Town which has some of Cave Creeks original structures is also pictured.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.2 square miles (73 km2), all land. It is adjacent to the town of Carefree, and shares local landmark Black Mountain with Carefree.
There are two notable streams known as Cave Creek in Arizona. One flows through the Town of Cave Creek and into Phoenix. This may be the origin of the town's name. The other Cave Creek (Cave Creek Canyon) is in the Chiricahua Mountains, 200 miles to the southeast.
Choose the Best Paralegal Program near Cave Creek AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Cave Creek residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cave Creek AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 200