How to Select a Paralegal Program near Luke Afb Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Luke Afb AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Luke Afb homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly 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 hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only 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 Luke Afb AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties 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 transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare 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 complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Luke Afb AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning 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
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Luke Afb AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial aspects to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation 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 thoroughly 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 highly regarded organization 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 targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Luke Afb AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Luke Afb AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Luke Afb AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those schools that are within the Luke Afb AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Luke Afb AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Luke Afb 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 select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, such as 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 might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Luke Afb AZ?
If you live near Luke Afb 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.
Luke Air Force Base
Luke Air Force Base (IATA: LUF, ICAO: KLUF, FAA LID: LUF) is a United States Air Force base located 7 miles (6.1 nmi; 11 km) west of the central business district of Glendale, in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. It is about 15 miles (13 nmi; 24 km) west of Phoenix, Arizona.
Luke AFB is a major training base of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), training pilots in the F-16 Fighting Falcon. On 31 March 2011 it was announced that the F-35 Lightning II would replace the F-16 as the primary training aircraft at Luke, although the date of deployment of the new aircraft to Luke and reorganization plans were not announced. On 16 July 2013, the Air Force announced that Luke AFB will house a total of 144 F-35A Lightning IIs.
Luke Air Force Base is an active-duty F-16 Fighting Falcon training base with 170 F-16s assigned. The host command at Luke is the 56th Fighter Wing (56 FW), under Air Education and Training Command's 19th Air Force.
Select the Best Paralegal College near Luke Afb AZ
Choosing the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Luke Afb home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program 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 programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Luke Afb AZ.
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