How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Stanfield Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Stanfield AZ and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Stanfield homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Stanfield AZ with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Stanfield AZ paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more apropos 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 manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training 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 job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Stanfield AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Stanfield AZ.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good option for students in Stanfield AZ searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing 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 conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Stanfield AZ area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Stanfield AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Stanfield AZ paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Stanfield AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. 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 want to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Stanfield AZ local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Stanfield AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Stanfield AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Stanfield AZ?
As of the census of 2000, there were 651 people, 187 households, and 146 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 164.2 people per square mile (63.5/km²). There were 202 housing units at an average density of 51.0/sq mi (19.7/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 50.69% White, 3.99% Black or African American, 11.37% Native American, 0.92% Pacific Islander, 30.88% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. 61.60% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 187 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 23.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.9% were non-families. 17.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.48 and the average family size was 3.94.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 32.6% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 17.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.5 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $22,391, and the median income for a family was $32,614. Males had a median income of $15,938 versus $15,000 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $9,210. About 32.1% of families and 32.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 51.9% of those under age 18 and 20.0% of people of age 65 or over.
Select the Right Paralegal College near Stanfield AZ
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying 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 Stanfield home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education 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 decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Stanfield AZ.
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