How to Find a Paralegal School near Joseph City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Joseph City AZ and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Joseph City residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Joseph City AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Joseph City AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned 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 might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential 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 idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Joseph City AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Joseph City AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Joseph City AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Joseph City AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable 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? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Joseph City AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Joseph City AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Joseph City AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and may be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss 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 example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Joseph City AZ?
If you live near Joseph 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.
Joseph City, Arizona
Joseph City (elevation 5,000 ft) is an unincorporated community located in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. It is located on Interstate 40 about eighty miles east of Flagstaff and about thirty-five miles west of Petrified Forest National Park. In 2010, there were 1,386 inhabitants.
Joseph City was settled in 1876 by colonists from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This band of 73 pioneers was led by Captain William C. Allen. They traveled to the Little Colorado River basin of Arizona. Joseph City was one of four Little Colorado River colonies. The other colonies were Brigham City, Sunset, and Obed. Joseph City is the only remaining colony.
The hardest trial for the new colonists was trying to get water for their crops. This meant that they had to try to tame the Little Colorado River. This was difficult due to the flooding season that would destroy dams along the river.The first dam was built in 1876, shortly after the colonists arrived in the area. For the next eighteen years the colonists built ten more dams. The eleventh dam was built in 1894. This dam lasted for twenty-nine years. In 1923, the eleventh dam was destroyed and the colonists were forced to build a new dam. This dam still currently stands and directs water to the inhabitants still in the city.
Choose the Right Legal Assistant School near Joseph City AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying 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 comfort and privacy of your Joseph City residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Joseph City AZ.
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