How to Select a Paralegal Program near Cochise Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Cochise AZ and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial 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 academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Cochise homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. 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 for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Cochise AZ with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing 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 Cochise AZ paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
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. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Cochise AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Cochise AZ.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good alternative for students in Cochise AZ looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Cochise AZ area schools. But since 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 when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Cochise AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Cochise AZ paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Cochise AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating 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 wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within your Cochise AZ local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Cochise AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Cochise AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Cochise AZ?
Cochise County, Arizona
In 1528 Spanish Explorers: Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Estevanico, and Fray Marcos de Niza survived a shipwreck off Texas coast. Captured by Native Americans they spent 8 years finding way back to Mexico City, via the San Pedro Valley. Their journals, maps, and stories lead to the Cibola, seven cities of gold myth. The Expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1539 using it as his route north through what they called the Guachuca Mountains of Pima (Tohono O'odham) lands and later part of the mission routes north, but was actually occupied by the Sobaipuri descendants of the Hohokam. They found a large Pueblo (described as a small city) between Benson and Whetstone, and several smaller satellite villages and smaller pueblos including ones on Fort Huachuca, Huachuca City and North Eastern Fry. About 1657 Father Kino visited the Sobaipuris just before the Apache forced most from the valley, as they were struggling to survive due to increasing Chiricahua Apache attacks as they moved into the area of Texas Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains. In 1776 The Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrante was founded on the West bank of the San Pedro River, to protect the natives as well as the Spanish settlers who supplied the mission stations, but it was chronically short on provisions from raids, and lack of personnel to adequately patrol the eastern route due to wars with France and England, so the main route north shifted west to the Santa Cruz valley, farther from the Chiricahua Apache's ranges who almost exclusively controlled the area by 1821.
Cochise County was created on February 1, 1881, out of the eastern portion of Pima County. It took its name from the legendary Chiricahua Apache war chief Cochise. The county seat was Tombstone until 1929 when it moved to Bisbee. Notable men who once held the position of County Sheriff were Johnny Behan, who served as the first sheriff of the new county, and who was one of the main characters during the events leading to and following the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Later, in 1886, Texas John Slaughter became sheriff. Lawman Jeff Milton and lawman/outlaw Burt Alvord both served as deputies under Slaughter.
A syndicated television series which aired from 1956 to 1958, Sheriff of Cochise starring John Bromfield, was filmed in Bisbee. The Jimmy Stewart movie Broken Arrow and subsequent television show of the same name starring John Lupton, which also aired from 1956 to 1958, took place (but was not filmed) in Cochise County.
Beginning in the late 1950s, the small community of Miracle Valley was the site of a series of bible colleges and similar religious organizations, founded by television evangelist A. A. Allen. In 1982, Miracle Valley and neighboring Palominas were the site of a series of escalating conflicts between a newly arrived religious community and the county sheriff and deputies that culminated in the Miracle Valley shootout.
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Cochise AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential 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 Cochise home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cochise AZ.
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