How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Palo Verde Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Palo Verde AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Palo Verde residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at 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 basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Palo Verde AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number 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 possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Palo Verde AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Palo Verde AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Palo Verde AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 a few Palo Verde AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Palo Verde AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing 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 substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish 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 wish to first investigate those colleges that are within the Palo Verde AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Palo Verde AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Palo Verde AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Palo Verde AZ?
If you live near Palo Verde 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.
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
The Palo Verde Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located near Tonopah, Arizona, in western Arizona. It is located about 45 miles (72 km) due west of downtown Phoenix, Arizona, and it is located near the Gila River, which is dry save for the rainy season in late summer.
The Palo Verde Generating Station is the largest power plant in the United States by net generation. Its average electric power production is about 3.3 gigawatts (GW), and this power serves about four million people. The Arizona Public Service Company (APS) operates and owns 29.1% of the plant. Its other major owners include the Salt River Project (17.5%), the El Paso Electric Company (15.8%), Southern California Edison (15.8%), PNM Resources (10.2%), the Southern California Public Power Authority (5.9%), and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (5.7%).
The Palo Verde Generating Station is located in the Arizona desert, and is the only large nuclear power plant in the world that is not located near a large body of water. The power plant evaporates the water from the treated sewage from several nearby cities and towns to provide the cooling of the steam that it produces.
Find the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Palo Verde AZ
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Palo Verde residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Palo Verde AZ.
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