How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies School near Florence Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Florence AZ and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive 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 increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within driving distance of their Florence homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Florence AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including 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 firm might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys 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 involved and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Florence AZ is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Florence AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization 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 training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Florence AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available 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 specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Florence AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer 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 establishing contacts within the Florence AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Florence AZ area.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length 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 also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Florence AZ. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Florence AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary 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 more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Florence AZ?
If you live near Florence 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.
Florence (O'odham: S-auppag) is a town, 61 miles (98 km) southeast of Phoenix, in Pinal County, Arizona, United States. Florence, which is the county seat of Pinal County, is one of the oldest towns in that county and is regarded as a National Historic District with over 25 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The population of Florence was 30,770 at the 2015 census.
The area where the current town of Florence is located was once inhabited by the Hohokam, ancestors of the O'odham people. Prior to the establishment of the town, the Gila River served as a part of the border between the United States and Mexico. In 1853, the Gadsden Purchase extended American territory well south of the Gila.
Levi Ruggles, a veteran of the American Civil War, founded the town of Florence on the south bank of the Gila River. He came to Arizona Territory in 1866 as a U.S. Indian Agent. Recognizing the agricultural potential of the valley, he found an easily fordable crossing on the Gila River and surveyed a townsite there. With the aid of Governor R.C. McCormick, he secured a post office in August of the same year. Ruggles held numerous public offices including that of Territorial Legislator. Florence became the county seat in the newly formed Pinal County. Silver was discovered in 1875 in the nearby mountains which led to the creation of the famous Silver King Mine.
Online ABA Paralegal Certificate Florence AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies training school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Online ABA Paralegal Certificate. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Florence home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available 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 impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Florence AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
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