How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near New River Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near New River AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their New River residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be considered also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 essentially both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, 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 New River AZ with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to 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
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping 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 New River AZ paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in New River AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired 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 also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in New River AZ.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for those in New River AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced 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 quality. So check to make sure 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 disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing New River AZ area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous New River AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the New River AZ paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the New River AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within your New River AZ local region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in New River AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near New River AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in New River AZ?
New River, Arizona
New River is named after the seasonal wash of the same name, part of the Agua Fria River system which drains into the Salt River. It was founded by Lord Darrell Duppa in 1868 as a stagecoach stop. For many years it was the terminus of the old Black Canyon Highway (now Interstate 17). The pavement ended in New River and continued as a dirt road to the city of Prescott.
New River is located at 33°52′9″N 112°5′9″W / 33.86917°N 112.08583°W / 33.86917; -112.08583 (33.869149, −112.085759). It is bordered by the Tonto National Forest to the north, Cave Creek to the east, Phoenix to the south, and Anthem to the west. The CDP includes the area known as Desert Hills.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 70.8 square miles (183 km2), of which, 70.8 square miles (183 km2) of it is land and 0.01% is water. It includes both Daisy Mountain and Gavilan Peak.
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,740 people, 3,921 households, and 3,066 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 151.6 people per square mile (58.5/km²). There were 4,514 housing units at an average density of 63.7/sq mi (24.6/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 95.87% White, 0.42% Black or African American, 0.60% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.25% from other races, and 1.37% from two or more races. 4.85% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near New River AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your New River home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in New River AZ.
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