How to Choose a Paralegal School near Parker Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Parker AZ and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Parker residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Parker AZ with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Parker AZ paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Parker AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Parker AZ.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals in Parker AZ looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Parker AZ area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate 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 significant aspects to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Parker AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Parker AZ paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Parker AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within your Parker AZ local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Parker AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Parker AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Parker AZ?
Parker (Mojave 'Amat Kuhwely, formerly 'Ahwe Nyava) is the county seat of La Paz County, Arizona, United States, on the Colorado River in Parker Valley. The population was 3,083 at the 2010 census.
Founded in 1908, the town was named after Ely Parker, the first Native American commissioner for the U.S. government. The original town site of Parker was surveyed and laid out in 1909 by a railroad location engineer by the name of Earl. H. Parker for the Arizona & California Railway. The town officially incorporated in 1948 and became the county seat for the newly created La Paz county on January 1, 1983.
The town's name and origin began when a post office called Parker was established January 6, 1871, at Parker's Landing and the site of the Parker Indian Agency, named for Ely Parker, on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, 4 miles down river from the site of the railroad bridge of the modern town, to serve the Indian agency.:118 What became Parkers Landing was established on the river as the place to land and pick up cargo and personnel for the Indian Agency and the U. S. Army detachment that was stationed there at Camp Colorado from 1864 to 1869 during the first years of the Reservation. Camp Colorado was abandoned after wind blown sparks from the departing steamboat Cocopah rapidly burned down the brush huts of the officers of the garrison, and endangered its barracks and storehouses. :66, n.61
According to Census Bureau maps, the town is divided into two non-contiguous sections; the northern section consists of the original town and is located in the Colorado River Indian reservation and the southern section consists of a larger, roughly rectangular section of largely undeveloped territory. The undeveloped territory consist of extensive unpaved roads. Of the few that are paved Mohave Road is the most utilized between the town and the territory. The same road can be taken 15.5 miles south to the Town of Poston which is noted for its relocation camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.
Find the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Parker AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Parker home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Parker AZ.
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