How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Duncan Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Duncan AZ and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive 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 a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Duncan homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available 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 roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, 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 Duncan AZ with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Duncan AZ paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed 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 suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. 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 otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Duncan AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want 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 maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits 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 Duncan AZ.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good option for students in Duncan AZ looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more 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 looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Duncan AZ area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Duncan AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Duncan AZ paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings 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 when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Duncan AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those colleges that are within your Duncan AZ local area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Duncan AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Duncan AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Duncan AZ?
Duncan is in the Gila River valley, 4 miles (6 km) west of the Arizona-New Mexico border. The town limits are on both sides of the Gila, but the primary portion of the town and the entire downtown area lie on the south side of the river. Duncan was founded in the mid 19th century, and the land was added to the United States as a part of the Mexican Cession. The town of Duncan has been destroyed twice by flood and once by fire.
The town and area are primarily populated by ranchers and miners (especially from the Freeport-McMoran copper mines in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico). Surrounding smaller towns such as Franklin and York in Arizona and Virden, New Mexico, use Duncan public works and public schools. The Duncan area along the Gila River is renowned for Native American artifacts such as arrow heads, pottery, burial sites, cave paintings and other remnants of the Anasazi and other pre-historic cultures, as well as artifacts from garrison camps of the expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, but grew up near Duncan on the Lazy B ranch, which straddles the border between Arizona and New Mexico. The Day family ran the ranch for many years until selling it; it continues to be run as a ranch. O'Connor later wrote a book titled Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest about her childhood experiences on the ranch with her brother H. Alan Day.
Duncan is located in southern Greenlee County at 32°43′33″N 109°5′52″W / 32.72583°N 109.09778°W / 32.72583; -109.09778 (32.725828, -109.097686).U.S. Route 70 passes through downtown, leading west 39 miles (63 km) to Safford, Arizona, and southeast 35 miles (56 km) to Lordsburg, New Mexico, and Interstate 10. Arizona State Route 75 leads north from Duncan 28 miles (45 km) to Clifton.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Program near Duncan AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee 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 participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Duncan home. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public 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 impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Duncan AZ.
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