How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Benson Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Benson AZ and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Benson residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles 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 category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Benson AZ attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Benson AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Benson AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Benson AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Benson AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Benson AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled 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, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. 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 investigate those colleges that are within the Benson AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Benson AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Benson AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Benson AZ?
If you live near Benson 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.
Benson is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, 45 miles (72 km) east-southeast of Tucson. It was founded as a rail terminal for the area, and still serves as such. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 5,105.
The city was founded in 1880 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came through. It was named after Judge William S. Benson, a friend of Charles Crocker, president of the Southern Pacific. The railroad, coming overland from California, chose the Benson site to cross the San Pedro River. Benson then served as a rail junction point to obtain ore and refined metal by wagon, in turn shipping rail freight back to the mines at Tombstone, Fairbank, Contention City and Bisbee. For example, the railhead in Benson was about 25 miles (40 km) from Tombstone, and was the closest rail connection to it until 1882, when a feeder line was laid from Benson to Contention City.
The railhead in Benson was founded about a mile from a traditional crossing of the upper San Pedro River (known also as the Middle Crossing), used by the Southern Emigrant Trail and San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line. It was the site of the San Pedro Station of the Butterfield Overland Mail and a wagon depot, the San Pedro River Station, run since 1871 by William Ohnesorgen. In 1878 he had erected a toll bridge over which mining supplies were transported to the new mining camps such as Fairbank and Tombstone. Two years later this bridge marked the location of the railroad bridge that became the terminal site of Benson.
Bachelor Of Legal Studies Benson AZ
Enrolling in the right legal assistant certificate school is a vital 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 Bachelor Of Legal Studies. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Benson home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Benson AZ.
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