How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Naco Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Naco AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Naco residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Naco AZ attorneys with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Naco AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Naco AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Naco AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Naco AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Naco AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Naco AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Naco AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Naco AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Naco AZ?
If you live near Naco 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.
Naco, a Census-Designated Place (CDP) located in Cochise County, Arizona, United States had a recorded population of 1,046 during the 2010 census. It's located directly across the United States–Mexico border from its sister city Naco, Sonora. Naco is best known for an accidental 1929 air raid, is the first and only municipality in the Continental United States to have been aerially bombed by foreigners. 
The present-day unincorporated town of Naco, Arizona, was established in the early 20th century. The area was originally settled by the Nahua and Opata Indians. Naco means "nopal cactus" in the Opata language. The U.S. Congress officially established Naco as a Port of Entry on June 28, 1902. Today, the Naco port of entry is open 24 hours per day.
The accidental 1929 Bombing of Naco by Irish-American mercenary Patrick Murphy is notable for being the first and only instance where a town in the Continental United States was bombed by aircraft working for a foreign Power. The 1942 Lookout Air Raids, when a Japanese floatplane pilot made two unsuccessful attempts to start forest fires in rural Oregon, and the 1944-45 unmanned Fu-Go Fire balloon attacks, also by the Japanese, are the only other cases of the Continental United States enduring aerial bombing by a foreign power. Such events are exceptionally rare in American history because during 20th century conflicts, most notably World War I and World War II, the continental United States escaped the large-scale aerial bombings that devastated many Asian and European cities.
Select the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Naco AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an important 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 attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Naco home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Naco AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 4