How to Choose a Paralegal College near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Lake Havasu City AZ and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Lake Havasu City residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational 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 comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Lake Havasu City AZ with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Lake Havasu City AZ paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Lake Havasu City AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can 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 numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Lake Havasu City AZ.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Lake Havasu City AZ searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Lake Havasu City 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 know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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 as well. Many Lake Havasu City AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Lake Havasu City AZ paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm 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 which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Lake Havasu City AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good 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 vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want 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 need to first look at those schools that are within your Lake Havasu City AZ local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Lake Havasu City AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Lake Havasu City AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Lake Havasu City AZ?
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Lake Havasu City is a city in Mohave County, Arizona, United States. According to 2010 census, the population of the town is 52,527 people. It is served by Lake Havasu City Airport. Lake Havasu City is geographically isolated from the other cities in Mohave County and is the southernmost community of the Las Vegas–Henderson, NV–AZ combined statistical area.
The community first started as an Army Air Corps rest camp, called "Site Six," during World War II on the shores of Lake Havasu. In 1958, American businessman Robert P. McCulloch purchased 3,353 acres (13.57 km2) of property on the east side of the lake along Pittsburgh Point, the peninsula that eventually would be transformed into "the Island."
After four years of planning, McCulloch Properties acquired another 13,000 acres of federal land in the surrounding area. Lake Havasu City was established on September 30, 1963, by a resolution of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors as the Lake Havasu Irrigation and Drainage District, making it a legal entity. (The act is referenced in resolution #63-12-1.) The city was incorporated in 1978.
The London Bridge crosses a narrow channel that leads from Lake Havasu (a segment of the Colorado River) to Thompson Bay (also on the river). Hoping to attract tourists and prospective buyers of residential lots, McCulloch bought it for US $2.5 million from the City of London when the bridge was replaced in 1968. The bridge was disassembled on contract with Sundt Construction, Tucson, AZ, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled by Sundt for another US $7 million. The construction took three years to complete.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Lake Havasu City AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Lake Havasu City residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Lake Havasu City AZ.
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