How to Select a Paralegal College near Green Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Green Valley AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Green Valley residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options 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 hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Green Valley AZ with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Green Valley AZ paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 manage 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 possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Green Valley AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though 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. Some of the highly respected 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Green Valley AZ.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for those in Green Valley AZ searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing Green Valley AZ area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start 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 also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Green Valley AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Green Valley AZ paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick 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 a few law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide 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 provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Green Valley AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools 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 sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Green Valley AZ local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Green Valley AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Green Valley AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Green Valley AZ?
Green Valley, Arizona
Green Valley is located along the western side of the Santa Cruz River at 31°51′N 111°0′W / 31.850°N 111.000°W / 31.850; -111.000 (31.8556, -111.0001).Continental is to the east of Green Valley, on the other side of the river.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 26.3 square miles (68.0 km²), of which, 26.2 square miles (68.0 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.08%) is water.
Green Valley is twenty miles (32 km) south of Tucson and 40 miles (64 km) north of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Surrounded by copper mines, and near the cycling, hiking and birding areas of the Santa Rita Mountains, Green Valley is an unincorporated retirement community composed of 59 Homeowner Associations.
Green Valley has a borderline hot semi-arid/hot desert climate (Köppen BSh/BWh) with three seasons: a warm to mild winter with chilly nights from October to March, a hot, extremely dry summer season from April to June, and a hot, relatively humid monsoon season from July to September. Outside monsoon season, rainfall is uniformly scarce, having exceeded 4.0 inches or 100 millimetres only in October 2000 amongst other months. The wettest month on record has been July 1990 with 10.43 inches or 264.9 millimetres, of which 3.22 inches or 81.8 millimetres fell on July 15. The wettest calendar year has been 1993 with 22.00 inches or 558.8 millimetres while the driest since 1988 has been 1997 with 9.90 inches or 251.5 millimetres.
Choose the Right Paralegal Program near Green Valley AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Green Valley home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Green Valley AZ.
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