How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Kearny Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kearny AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Kearny homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Kearny AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Kearny AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed 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 establish you as a professional as well. 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 first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Kearny AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn 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 begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation 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 effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Kearny 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 offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Kearny AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Kearny AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Kearny AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Kearny AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Kearny AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least 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, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Kearny AZ?
If you live near Kearny 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.
Kearny is a town in Pinal County, Arizona, United States. The town was named after General Stephen Watts Kearny, who passed through the area on November 7, 1846, while leading 100 dragoons to California. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 1,950. The economic base of Kearny and nearby towns is the Ray mine and Hayden Smelter, both owned and operated by ASARCO.
Kearny was built by the Kennecott Mining Company in 1958 as a planned community to accommodate the populations of nearby Ray, Sonora and Barcelona, which were about to be swallowed by Kennecott's expanding open-pit copper mine. While many of houses in the town were newly built, some mine employees had their homes moved down the road. Kearny was officially incorporated in 1959.
The town sits near the Gila River in the Copper Basin area along with its sister cities, Hayden and Winkelman. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2), all of it land.
Degree Online Paralegal Kearny AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies training program 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 Degree Online Paralegal. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Kearny residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade 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 programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Kearny AZ.
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