How to Choose a Paralegal College near Gila Bend Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Gila Bend AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Gila Bend residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and functions, only 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 help lawyers in Gila Bend AZ with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Gila Bend AZ paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals 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 handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically 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 in Gila Bend AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Gila Bend AZ.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for students in Gila Bend AZ looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure 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 disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Gila Bend AZ area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare 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 covered, there are other important aspects to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Gila Bend AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Gila Bend AZ paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, 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 several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember 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 an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Gila Bend AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating 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 undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success 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’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want 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 might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within your Gila Bend AZ local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Gila Bend AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Gila Bend AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Gila Bend AZ?
Gila Bend, Arizona
Gila Bend (/ˌhiːlə ˈbɛnd/; O'odham: Hila Wi:n), founded in 1872, is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. The town is named for an approximately 90-degree bend in the Gila River, which is near but not precisely at the community's current location. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 1,922.
The town of Gila Bend is situated near an ancient Hohokam village. Father Eusebio Francisco Kino was the first European to visit in 1699 on his first journey of exploration to the Colorado River. The Hohokam site along fertile banks of the Gila River had been abandoned and other tribes, lived in the vicinity. 132 Pima people lived in a rancheria called Oyadaibuc or as Kino named it San Felipe y Santiago del Oyadaibuc, near the modern town, and other Pima lived in three rancherias up river to the north mixed with the Cocomaricopa or Opa. During one of his three visits to Gila Bend, Kino counted 960 Opas living in their own rancherias down river to the west of Oyadaibuc as far as a few miles beyond Agua Caliente.:26–27 The Opa and Pima used the flood waters of the river to irrigate their crops. Oyadaibuc was also visited by Juan Bautista de Anza, commander of the Presidio at Tubac and founder of the city of San Francisco, and by Father Francisco Tomas Garces in 1774. As late as the 1820s Maricopa were living at Gila Bend. After the 1820s, the Maricopa, under relentless pressure from the Yuma and other tribes, and population loss from epidemics, had been compelled to leave the Gila Bend and join the Pima in the Middle Gila region. By the time of the California Gold Rush the Maricopa villages, were all located east of the Sierra Estrella, on the Gila River, below the Pima Villages.:111–112
During the Mexican–American War, the expeditions of Kearny (1846), Cooke (1847) and Graham (1847) passed through the area but found no village. Only Graham found corn stubble on the riverside with which to graze his cattle.:21–22 From 1849 what became the Southern Emigrant Trail passed through the area which by 1854 had acquired the name Tezotal or Tesotal, from name of the scientific name of the desert ironwood tree, (Olneya tesota) given it in the botanical report of the Boundary Survey along the Gila River led by William H. Emory.:117,132
From 1857, the place at 33°00′01.87″N 112°41′55.83″W / 33.0005194°N 112.6988417°W / 33.0005194; -112.6988417 was named Gila Ranch and was a stagecoach water and camping stop on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and in 1858 as Gila Ranch Station, was a stage station on the more famous Butterfield Overland Mail route to California. Gila Bend Station was located 17 miles east of Murderer's Grave Station and 40 miles west of Maricopa Wells Station across the water-less Forty Mile Desert. In 1859, Desert Station was established with its own well on West Prong Waterman Wash, roughly midway across the Forty Mile Desert. Also two tanks were established, one midway between Desert Station and Gila Ranch and the other midway between Desert Station and Maricopa Wells stations, to water the horses. The two riverside stations carried the water to supply these tanks. In 1860 the Gila Ranch station was burnt down, but soon rebuilt.:128–132 In 1861, the Butterfield line shut down but during the American Civil War Gila Ranch remained a stop for freighters to and from the riverport of Arizona City on the Colorado River, passing travelers, the troops of the Confederate Army that briefly passed through and then the California Column of the Union Army that invaded Confederate Arizona and occupied New Mexico Territory in 1862.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Gila Bend AZ
Selecting the best paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Gila Bend residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Gila Bend AZ.
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