How to Find a Paralegal School near Glendale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Glendale AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Glendale homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Glendale AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions 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 transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour 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 noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Glendale AZ is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Glendale AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Glendale AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Glendale AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Glendale AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid 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 students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within the Glendale AZ region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Glendale AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Glendale 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 enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common and may be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Glendale AZ?
If you live near Glendale AZ or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Glendale /ˈɡlɛndeɪl/ is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located about nine miles (14 km) northwest from Downtown Phoenix. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 226,721.
In the late 1800s what is now known as Glendale, Arizona, was all desert. William John Murphy, a native of New Hartford, New York, who resided in the town of Flagstaff in what was then known as the territory of Arizona, was in charge of building a 40-mile-long (64 km) Arizona Canal from Granite Reef to New River for the Arizona Canal Company. In 1885, he completed the canal, which would bring water to the desert land. Murphy was deep in debt, since he had agreed to be paid in Arizona Canal Company stock and bonds and land instead of cash.
In 1887, Murphy formed the Arizona Improvement Company. His objective was to sell the land and water rights south of the canal. Murphy had to raise capital from out of state sources in order to meet payroll and construction expenses. Murphy decided to refer to this land as "Glendale". In order to develop and interest potential investors and settlers in this new town, Murphy decided to provide a better way of access from Phoenix to Glendale and ending in the town of Peoria by building an 18-mile-long (29 km) diagonal road which he named Grand Avenue.
Select the Ideal Legal Assistant Program near Glendale AZ
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Glendale home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose 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 decision. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Glendale AZ.
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