How to Select a Paralegal Certificate Program near Higley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Higley AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Higley homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, 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.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Higley AZ with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transporting 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 attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Higley AZ paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Higley AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Higley AZ.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be a good alternative for students in Higley AZ looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. 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 disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Higley AZ area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors 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 need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Higley AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Higley AZ paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Higley AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire 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 may want to first investigate those schools that are within your Higley AZ local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Higley AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Higley AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Higley AZ?
Higley Unified School District
The Higley Unified School District #60, abbreviated HUSD #60 is a school district in Gilbert, Arizona. The school district serves portions of Gilbert and Queen Creek. It is one of Arizona's fastest growing school districts, with modest continued growth despite the downturn in the economy at the end of the 2000s (decade). The District owns eight elementary schools and two high schools. In August 2013, the district opened two new middle schools and all other elementary schools that hosted grades K-8 went down to K-6.
The Higley district was incorporated in 1909 with a territory far larger than its current size, but most of the land was transferred to other Valley school districts over the years. For instance, the Queen Creek Unified School District was carved out of the Higley district in 1947.Higley Elementary School was the only school in the district for the next 53 years. The district's high school students went to Gilbert Public Schools' high schools. As the Valley expanded, Larry Likes, then-superintendent of the district, brought it through an era of suburbia swallowing the local farmland. It was not long before the growth of the 1990s and 2000s caught up to the district's 24-square-mile (62 km2) service area. In 1999, the district legally unified; in 2000, it opened Coronado Elementary School, its first new school in decades; in 2001, Higley High School opened its doors; four years later, it opened up Gateway Pointe Elementary School, then a year later, it opened Cortina Elementary School; another year later, further growth induced the opening of Williams Field High School. In the spring of 2008, Higley became the first district in Arizona to receive K-12 accreditation by the AdvancED/North Central Accreditation Team. Graduating Higley seniors were offered $2.7 million in academic and athletic scholarships.
The district opened two middle schools (Cooley Middle School and Sossaman Middle School) to better prepare 7th and 8th grade students for high school and to alleviate projected capacity issues at its elementary schools.
Higley Unified School District is a rapidly growing district in the state of Arizona. It owns 8 elementary schools and 2 high schools. By August 2013, HUSD will be opening 2 new middle schools, the last district to have not opened one yet in the East Valley, to relieve all of its elementary schools from the rapidly growing student population.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal School near Higley AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an essential 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 attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Higley home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Higley AZ.
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