How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Wickenburg Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wickenburg AZ and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Wickenburg residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered as well. Later in this article we will review 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 choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options 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 hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, 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 attorneys in Wickenburg AZ with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Wickenburg AZ paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted 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 suited 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Wickenburg AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Wickenburg AZ.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Wickenburg AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing 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 formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Wickenburg AZ area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a recognized 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Wickenburg AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Wickenburg AZ paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Wickenburg AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Wickenburg AZ local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Wickenburg AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Wickenburg AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Wickenburg AZ?
The Wickenburg area with much of the Southwest became part of the United States by the 1848 treaty that ended the Mexican-American War. The first extensive survey was conducted by Gila Rangers who were pursuing hostile Indians who had raided the Butterfield Overland Mail route and attacked miners at Gila City.
In 1862, a gold strike on the Colorado River near present-day Yuma brought American prospectors, who searched for minerals throughout central Arizona. Many of the geographic landmarks now bear the names of these pioneers, including the Weaver Mountains, named after mountain man Pauline Weaver, and Peeples Valley, named after a settler.
Ranchers and farmers soon built homes along the fertile plain of the Hassayampa River. Together with the miners, they founded the town of Wickenburg in 1863. Wickenburg was also the home of Jack Swilling, who prospected in the Salt River Valley in 1867. Swilling conducted irrigation efforts in that area and helped ground the city of Phoenix, Arizona.
As the town grew, conflicts developed with the Yavapai Native American tribe, who rejected a treaty signed by their chiefs, effectively breaking the treaty. When the American Civil War began in 1861, the Federal troops were all withdrawn and the settlements were left unprotected.
Find the Best Paralegal Program near Wickenburg AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying 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 Wickenburg residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. 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 irrespective of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Wickenburg AZ.
Other Cool Cities in Arizona
Business Results 1 - 10 of 3