How to Find a Paralegal College near Benson Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Benson AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, 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 most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Benson residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered too. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Benson AZ with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Benson AZ paralegal can be involved and very challenging. 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 action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited 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 manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Benson AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Benson AZ.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for students in Benson AZ looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items 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 the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Benson AZ area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors to research also, for instance 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 programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Benson AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Benson AZ paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Benson AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing 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 good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Benson AZ local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Benson AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Benson AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Benson AZ?
Benson is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, 45 miles (72 km) east-southeast of Tucson. It was founded as a rail terminal for the area, and still serves as such. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 5,105.
The city was founded in 1880 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came through. It was named after Judge William S. Benson, a friend of Charles Crocker, president of the Southern Pacific. The railroad, coming overland from California, chose the Benson site to cross the San Pedro River. Benson then served as a rail junction point to obtain ore and refined metal by wagon, in turn shipping rail freight back to the mines at Tombstone, Fairbank, Contention City and Bisbee. For example, the railhead in Benson was about 25 miles (40 km) from Tombstone, and was the closest rail connection to it until 1882, when a feeder line was laid from Benson to Contention City.
The railhead in Benson was founded about a mile from a traditional crossing of the upper San Pedro River (known also as the Middle Crossing), used by the Southern Emigrant Trail and San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line. It was the site of the San Pedro Station of the Butterfield Overland Mail and a wagon depot, the San Pedro River Station, run since 1871 by William Ohnesorgen. In 1878 he had erected a toll bridge over which mining supplies were transported to the new mining camps such as Fairbank and Tombstone. Two years later this bridge marked the location of the railroad bridge that became the terminal site of Benson.
The 40,000-acre (160 km2) Jay Six cattle ranch is located just outside Benson. The ranch played host to political figures like the young brothers Joseph and Jack Kennedy, and to senior statesman Barry Goldwater. The Kennedy brothers (Joe age 21 and Jack age 19) were sent out to the ranch in the spring of 1936 so that the brothers could work as ranch hands, and so that Jack Kennedy could recuperate from a recent illness in the dry desert heat. It is reported that ranchman Jack Speiden worked both brothers "very hard".
Find the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Benson AZ
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a vital 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 on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Benson residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you decide 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 ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Benson AZ.
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