How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Carefree Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Carefree AZ and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely 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 prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Carefree residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at 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 for the most part both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Carefree AZ with a wide range of job functions, such as 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 might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Carefree AZ paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
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. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Carefree AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Carefree AZ.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for students in Carefree AZ searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Carefree AZ area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify 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. Many Carefree AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Carefree AZ paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Carefree AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. 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 wish to first consider those schools that are within your Carefree AZ local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Carefree AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, 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 keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Carefree AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Carefree AZ?
Characterised as an upscale residential area, Carefree was conceived in the mid-1950s by business partners K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington as a master-planned community. Land sales commenced in 1955 and homebuilding started in 1958. Carefree was incorporated in 1984 to avoid annexation by neighboring Scottsdale.
The Carefree sundial, designed by architect Joe Wong and solar engineer John I. Yellott, was erected in the Sundial Circle plaza in 1959 and claims to be the "third largest sundial in the Western Hemisphere". The sundial, which points to the North Star, is made from a steel frame and covered in anodized copper. It measures 90 feet (27 m) in diameter. The metal gnomon, the shadow-casting portion of the dial, stands 35 feet (11 m) above the plaza and extends 72 feet (22 m).
Carefree was the long-time home of Southwestern Studios, originally built in 1968 as Fred Graham Studios by actor, stunt man, and Arizona Film Commissioner Fred Graham. The sprawling 160-acre (0.65 km2) desert property adjacent to North Scottsdale featured three state-of-the-art soundstages, edit bays, 35mm screening room, make-up, production facilities, western street and back lot. In the early 1970s, Stage 1 of the studio was used for The New Dick Van Dyke Show starring Dick Van Dyke, Hope Lange, Fannie Flagg, and Marty Brill. Stage 1 also was used for the filming of one of Orson Welles' last films, The Other Side of the Wind, with John Huston, Oja Kodar, Susan Strasberg, Bob Random and Peter Bogdanovich.
The studio was used for the filming of Bob Hope's last feature film, Cancel My Reservation, with Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Bellamy, and Forrest Tucker. Scenes were also shot at the studio for Michaelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point, such as the back-lot house explosion, for Paul Newman's scenes in Pocket Money, for Bill Cosby's feature debut, Man and Boy, specifically the western street, and recently for Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, again the western street. The short, silent feature Time River was shot on Stages 2 and 3 and extensively on the back lot and western street sets.
Select the Best Paralegal Program near Carefree AZ
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed 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 Carefree home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available 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 influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Carefree AZ.
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