How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Keams Canyon Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Keams Canyon AZ and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive 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 a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools within driving range of their Keams Canyon residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Keams Canyon AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow 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 tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. 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 action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Keams Canyon AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive 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 an option also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Keams Canyon AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Keams Canyon AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Keams Canyon AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Keams Canyon AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Keams Canyon AZ region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Keams Canyon AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Keams Canyon AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Keams Canyon AZ?
If you live near Keams Canyon 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.
Keams Canyon, Arizona
Pongsikya is a narrow box canyon named after a plant of edible greens that survived along the seasonal stream that drains from Antelope Mesa and flows through the three mile long canyon. Here William Keam, and then his cousin Thomas Keam, operated a trading post during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. They served the Navajo Indians and opened the door to commercial trade for the Hopi Indians. The nearest trading post was some fifty miles away and Keam’s trading post was 13 miles east of the Hopi Indian’s settlements on First Mesa. With the opportunity for full year round trade nearby, the regional Indians quickly identified the canyon with the traders and the name Keams Canyon took hold.
As of the census of 2000, there were 260 people, 74 households, and 44 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 28.0 people per square mile (10.8/km²). There were 106 housing units at an average density of 11.4/sq mi (4.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 7.69% White, 0.38% Black or African American, 89.62% Native American, and 2.31% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 74 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.4% were married couples living together, 20.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.56.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Keams Canyon AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Keams Canyon residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter 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 program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Keams Canyon AZ.
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