How to Select a Paralegal Program near Wellton Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wellton AZ and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Wellton homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account too. 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 each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same 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 separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Wellton AZ with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Wellton AZ paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training 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 educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Wellton AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Wellton AZ.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for those in Wellton AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of assessing Wellton AZ area schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Wellton AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Wellton AZ paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Wellton AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your Wellton AZ local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Wellton AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Wellton 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 offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Wellton AZ?
It is located along Interstate 8 and the former route of U.S. Route 80. It is a junction on the Union Pacific Railroad (formerly Southern Pacific), where the lines to Phoenix and to Maricopa diverge. Amtrak's Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle pass through the town without stopping.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,829 people, 700 households, and 552 families residing in the town. The population density was 727.3 people per square mile (281.3/km²). There were 1,144 housing units at an average density of 454.9 per square mile (176.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 68.23% White, 2.02% Black or African American, 1.37% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.42% from other races, and 2.52% from two or more races. 40.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 700 households out of which 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.4% were married couples living together, 6.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.1% were non-families. 17.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the town, the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 17.4% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 28.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.9 males.
Select the Best Paralegal College near Wellton AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered 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 Wellton home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wellton AZ.
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