How to Pick the Right Paralegal School near Catalina Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Catalina AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among 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 options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Catalina homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Catalina AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Catalina AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Catalina AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important issues to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Catalina AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Catalina AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Catalina AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly 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 graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. 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 investigate those colleges that are within the Catalina AZ region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Catalina AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Catalina AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Catalina AZ?
If you live near Catalina 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.
Catalina is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. The population was 7,025 at the 2000 census. Catalina continues to experience increasing population growth, while attempting to maintain its rural character. Catalina remains an unincorporated community, with no plans for annexation into any nearby towns.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,025 people, 2,567 households, and 1,899 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 506.6 people per square mile (195.6/km²). There were 2,755 housing units at an average density of 198.7/sq mi (76.7/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 85.21% White, 0.54% Black or African American, 1.44% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 9.71% from other races, and 2.55% from two or more races. 23.67% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,567 households out of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.2% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.0% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.05.
Paralegal Schools Online Accredited Catalina AZ
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is an essential 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 Paralegal Schools Online Accredited. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Catalina residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Catalina AZ.
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