How to Choose a Paralegal College near Mohave Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Mohave Valley AZ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Mohave Valley homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at 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 for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Mohave Valley AZ with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Mohave Valley AZ paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage 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 educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Mohave Valley AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned 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. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Mohave Valley AZ.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for individuals in Mohave Valley AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Mohave Valley AZ area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible 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 add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Mohave Valley AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Mohave Valley AZ paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Mohave Valley AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Mohave Valley AZ local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Mohave Valley AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Mohave Valley AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Mohave Valley AZ?
The Mohave Valley is a valley located mostly on the east shore of the south-flowing Colorado River in northwest Arizona. The valley extends into California's San Bernardino County; the northern side of the valley extends into extreme southeast Clark County, Nevada. The main part of the valley lies in southwest Mohave County, Arizona and is at the intersection of the southeast Mojave and northwest Sonoran deserts.
The valley extends into the three states of California, Arizona and Nevada, and the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation extends into them as well. On the west, the valley borders the Dead Mountains of California which overlook the tri-state intersection point.
Needles on Interstate 40 lies on the southwest margin of the valley overlooking the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and Topock Marsh. The village of Topock is located at the south end of the valley where the Chemehuevi Mountains of California restrict the Colorado to the narrow Mohave Canyon.
Mohave Valley is a 25-mile (40 km) long, north-south trending valley and up to 10 miles (16 km) wide at some areas. Mohave Valley, Arizona, in the center of the reservation, is at the center point of the valley. Bullhead City is at the northern perimeter of the valley; Needles is on the southwest border of the valley in California. Downstream, and southeast, near the southern valley perimeter is the Topock Marsh in Arizona, and also on the southern perimeter, Interstate 40 in Arizona as it ascends uphill out of the Sacramento Wash, and eventually enters the entire north-south Sacramento Valley which lies on the east, southeast, and partial south of the Black Mountains.
Select the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Mohave Valley AZ
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Mohave Valley home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. 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 program will have a profound influence 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 best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Mohave Valley AZ.
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