How to Pick the Right Paralegal Program near Kingman Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Kingman AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. 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 alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Kingman residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Kingman AZ lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. 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 could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their daily tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted 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 duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Kingman AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Kingman AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate 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 prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Kingman AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Kingman AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Kingman AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing 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 substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Kingman AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible 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 Kingman AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Kingman 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 makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Kingman AZ?
If you live near Kingman Arizona or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Kingman (Huwaalyapay Nyava in the Mojave language) is a city in and the county seat of Mohave County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 28,068. The nearby communities of Butler, and Golden Valley bring the Kingman area total population to over 45,000. Kingman is located about 105 miles (169 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada and about 165 miles (266 km) northwest of the state capital, Phoenix.
Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a U.S. Navy officer in the service of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, was ordered by the U.S. War Department to build a federal wagon road across the 35th Parallel. His secondary orders were to test the feasibility of the use of camels as pack animals in the southwestern desert. Beale traveled through the present day Kingman in 1857 surveying the road and in 1859 to build the road. Beale's Wagon Road became part of Highway 66 and Interstate Highway 40. Remnants of the wagon road can still be seen in White Cliffs Canyon in Kingman.
Kingman, Arizona, was founded in 1882, when Arizona was still Arizona Territory. Situated in the Hualapai Valley between the Cerbat and Hualapai mountain ranges, Kingman is known for its very modest beginnings as a simple railroad siding near Beale’s Springs in the Middleton Section along the newly constructed route of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The city of Kingman was named for Lewis Kingman, who surveyed along the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad's right-of-way between Needles, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M. Lewis Kingman supervised the building of the railroad from Winslow, Ariz. to Beale's Springs, which is near the present location of the town of Kingman.
Associate Degree In Paralegal Studies Online Kingman AZ
Choosing the right paralegal studies certificate school is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Associate Degree In Paralegal Studies Online. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Kingman residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Kingman AZ.
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