How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Waddell Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Waddell AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive 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 increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Waddell homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 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 belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Waddell AZ with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Waddell AZ paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education 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 educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Waddell AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive 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 available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want 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 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Waddell AZ.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more common and can be a good option for individuals in Waddell AZ looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Waddell AZ area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade 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 as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Waddell AZ law firms will only employ 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 Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Waddell AZ paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Waddell AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing 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 great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many 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 Waddell AZ local region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Waddell AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Waddell AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Waddell AZ?
Waddell is an unincorporated community in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, northwest of the city of Phoenix. Waddell is named after Donald Ware Waddell, native of Ohio, who was a partner in the New York City investment firm of Brandon, Gordon and Waddell. It was this firm that organized the private financing for construction of the dam for the water reclamation project that creates Lake Pleasant. The intended Waddell town site was laid out by Donald W. Waddell in 1935, on property he owned on the northeast corner of Waddell Road and Cotton Lane (Section 12, T3N, R2W, G&SRB&M). Waddell moved to the area to oversee the firm’s interests in the project. He served on the board of the Maricopa Water District and invested in land through his interests in the Arizona Citrus Land Company and the Waddell Ranch Company.
In 1937 the Waddell Post Office was established inside the store on the original town site. Later the post office moved across the street and shared space with the cotton gin office. The current Waddell Post Office was built in 1992 and is located on Glendale Avenue and Cotton Lane, four miles south of the original site. The town never did develop, but remained a post office and place name for the area.
The dam on the Agua Fria River that creates Lake Pleasant (once called Frog Tanks Dam then, Pleasant Dam) was renamed for Donald W. Waddell in 1963, shortly after his death, in recognition of his contributions to the Maricopa Water District. Barry M. Goldwater spoke at the dedication ceremony.
With the expansion of the city of Surprise, use of the name Waddell to describe the location is rapidly falling into disuse. Influence of the name can still be seen in the name of Waddell Road, an arterial street running through Surprise, as well as the New Waddell Dam at Lake Pleasant. In November 2010 the White Tank Regional Library opened.
Find the Right Paralegal College near Waddell AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial 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 at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Waddell residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer 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 impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Waddell AZ.
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