How to Pick a Paralegal College near Ash Fork Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ash Fork AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Ash Fork residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives 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 fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Ash Fork AZ with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’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 mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Ash Fork AZ paralegal can be complicated and very 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 limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable 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 are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually 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 quickest way to launch your career in Ash Fork AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have earned 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 may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Ash Fork AZ.
Online Paralegal Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Ash Fork AZ looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address 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 certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Ash Fork AZ area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to consider as well, such as 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 investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Ash Fork AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Ash Fork AZ paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 contact a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Ash Fork AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within your Ash Fork AZ local area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Ash Fork AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Ash Fork AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Ash Fork AZ?
Ash Fork, Arizona
Geologic places of interest include the Cathedral Caves which are approximately 10 miles (16 km) west of town off Arizona Road, and Dante's Descent, a 275-foot (84 m) deep sinkhole also known as "Devil's Hole", which is approximately five miles northwest of Ash Fork, off of Crookton Road. Unfortunately, after closure by the state, Dante's Descent cannot legally be visited by the public. Pictorial and historic documentation of the natural attraction may be found at the Ash Fork Library.
Ash Fork lies in close proximity to Kaibab National Forest and Coconino National Forest, and international attractions such as the Grand Canyon are approximately an hour's drive away using major roads. Service roads allow swifter access to back areas of Grand Canyon National Park, but may not be open to public thoroughfare.
Approximately 15 miles (24 km) to the north of Ash Fork is Beale Road, which has the distinction of being the first federally funded highway. The internationally renowned U.S. Route 66 also runs directly through the town. Notably, the longest original, uninterrupted stretch of Route 66 still in existence (approximately 9.6 miles (15.4 km) long) can be found between Ash Fork, Arizona, and Seligman, Arizona, beginning just beyond Ash Fork at Crookton Road. The surrounding geographical area and settlements served as inspiration for the 2006 Pixar film Cars.
Ash Fork has proclaimed itself "The Flagstone Capital of the World", due to the large number of stone quarries and stone yards in and around the town. The title of "Flagstone Capital of the World", however, was bestowed upon Ash Fork by the Ash Fork Development Association and Ash Fork Historical Society. The title was officially bestowed upon the town in 2014 by the Arizona House of Representatives with the passage of H.R. 2001.
Find the Ideal Paralegal School near Ash Fork AZ
Choosing the right paralegal training program is an essential 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 participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Ash Fork residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, 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. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Ash Fork AZ.
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