How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Oracle Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Oracle AZ and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Oracle homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential 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 alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Oracle AZ with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. 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 might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Oracle AZ paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially 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 begin your career in Oracle AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can 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 as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Oracle AZ.
Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good option for students in Oracle AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Oracle AZ area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective 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 crucial issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Oracle AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Oracle AZ paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession 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, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating 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 exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Oracle AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid 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 Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Oracle AZ local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Oracle AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Oracle AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Oracle AZ?
Buffalo Bill Cody owned the High Jinks Gold Mine in Oracle briefly and, in 1911, appeared as "Santa" for a group of local children. The community is the location of the Biosphere 2 experiment. Oracle was also the postal address for environmentalist author Edward Abbey, who never lived in the town but visited often. Oracle is becoming a bedroom community for Tucson, Arizona, but large-scale development is opposed by many residents.
Oracle State Park is adjacent. The Arizona Trail passes through the Park and community. Oracle is the gateway to the road up the "back side" of Mount Lemmon, which starts off of American Avenue and currently offers a secondary route to the top. Prior to the construction of the Catalina Highway on the opposite side of the Santa Catalina range, the Oracle Control Road was the only road access to the mountain community of Summerhaven. The term "control road" derives from the fact that the direction of traffic was restricted to one-way only, either up or down at alternate times of day, to prevent motorists from having to pass one another on the narrow, steep road. This route is now popular mainly with off-road 4x4 drivers and with off-road or dual-purpose motorcyclists, and should not be attempted by regular passenger cars or street motorcycles. This road ends at the Catalina Highway near Loma Linda.
The name "Oracle" comes from early prospectors. Albert Weldon came to the area looking for gold and silver. He and some other companions named their first mine The Oracle after the ship Weldon had traveled on. The community was later named after its first mine, and thus, indirectly, after a ship.
He wrote that Albert Weldon who was born about 1840 in New Brunswick, Canada, traveled on his uncle Capt. A.D. Wood's ship Oracle around Cape Horn at the tip of South America and arrived in California between 1857 and 1860. Weldon enlisted as a private in Company E, 5th California Infantry, of the Union Army, in 1861. This unit was attached to the California Column and soon marched to Tucson where Weldon was posted at a nearby stage station before moving east and eventually being honorably discharged in Mesilla New Mexico in 1864.
Select the Best Paralegal Training near Oracle AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Oracle home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Oracle AZ.
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