How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Douglas Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Douglas AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Douglas homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. 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 essentially both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Douglas AZ with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Douglas AZ paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 fastest way to launch your career in Douglas AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Douglas AZ.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for those in Douglas AZ looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Douglas AZ area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Douglas AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Douglas AZ paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school 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 confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Douglas AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign 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 differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Douglas AZ local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Douglas AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Douglas AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Douglas AZ?
Douglas is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States that lies in the north-west to south-east running San Bernardino Valley within which runs the Rio San Bernardino. Douglas has a border crossing with Mexico at Agua Prieta and a history of mining.
The Douglas area was first settled by the Spanish in the 18th century. Presidio de San Bernardino was established in 1776 and abandoned in 1780. It was located a few miles east of present-day Douglas. The United States Army established Camp San Bernardino in the latter half of the 19th century near the presidio, and in 1910 Camp Douglas was built next to the town.
Douglas was founded as an American smelter town, to treat the copper ores of nearby Bisbee, Arizona. The town is named after mining pioneer Dr. James Douglas and was incorporated in 1905. Two copper smelters operated at the site. The Calumet and Arizona Company Smelter was built in 1902. The Copper Queen operated in Douglas from 1904 until 1931, when the Phelps Dodge Corporation purchased the Calumet and Arizona Company and took over their smelter. The Calumet and Arizona smelter then became the Douglas Reduction Works. Douglas was the site of the Phelps-Dodge Corporation Douglas Reduction Works until its closure in 1987. The smoke stacks of the smelter were not taken down until January 13, 1991. The town was a site of the Arizona Copper Mine Strike of 1983.
On June 23, 1926, missing evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson was found collapsed near a road at the adjacent Mexican town of Agua Prieta. She was driven into Douglas and told a story of kidnap, torture and escape as she convalesced at Calumet Hospital. There, large crowds gathered, anxious to see the famous Canadian-American celebrity minister. She had earlier disappeared from a beach near Los Angeles and was believed drowned. For a period of several weeks, Douglas enjoyed a brisk tourist boom as police, reporters and others visited the town and the nearby desert to investigate her story. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "Mrs. McPherson put Douglas square on the map and the citizens here appear grateful that it was in Douglas she sought refuge."
Choose the Best Paralegal College near Douglas AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Douglas home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Douglas AZ.
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