How to Choose a Paralegal School near Marana Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Marana AZ and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Marana residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational 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 for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, just 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 paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Marana AZ with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Marana AZ paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle 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 possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in Marana AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Marana AZ.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for students in Marana AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Marana AZ area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most 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 significant aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Marana AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Marana AZ paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Marana AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within your Marana AZ local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Marana AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Marana AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Marana AZ?
Marana is a town in Pima County, Arizona, located northwest of Tucson, with a small portion in Pinal County. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 34,961. Marana was the fourth fastest-growing place among all cities and towns in Arizona of any size from 1990 to 2000.
According to historian David Leighton, the first member of the Anway family in the Tucson area was Charles B. Anway, who arrived as a result of contracting tuberculosis. In 1919, brother William and his two children Louis and Ila arrived in town but they decided to settle in an area northwest of Tucson called Postvale, Arizona. In 1920, William who had been widowed for many years married Orpha Ralston, who was a member for many years in the Postvale Co-operative Women's Club. This club was involved in getting the local post office renamed from Postvale to the area's first known name Marana and in time the town name became Marana.
The southern portion of Marana has grown considerably since the early 1990s with the addition of businesses and some housing, much of it due to annexation of existing unincorporated areas. In 1992, the Marana Town Council voted to annex an area of unincorporated Pima County that was located to the southeast of the town limits. The area selected was a narrow corridor of land that snaked its way south along Interstate 10, then to the east along Ina Road, and then south along Thornydale Road. These areas were mainly high density commercial businesses and shopping centers, including large retailers such as Super KMart (now closed), Costco Wholesale, Target, and Home Depot. The areas were selected by Marana to be annexed, by their own admission, for their sales tax revenue. The large residential areas behind these commercial areas were not annexed. As a result, the city of Tucson filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of Arizona in and for the County of Pima (City of Tucson v Town of Marana) claiming that Marana illegally annexed the unincorporated areas in violation of existing state laws. However, on April 4, 1994, Judge Lina Rodriguez ruled in favor of Marana, allowing the annexation to stand. Following this suit, the Arizona State annexation laws were changed, forbidding municipalities from annexing small strips of land without taking large surrounding parcels as well. A "strip annexation" is no longer allowed under Arizona law.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 121.4 square miles (313.6 km²), of which, 120.7 square miles (312.3 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.9 km²) of it (1.22%) is water.
Find the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Marana AZ
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Marana home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Marana AZ.
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