How to Pick a Paralegal School near Casa Grande Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Casa Grande AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Casa Grande residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Casa Grande AZ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Casa Grande AZ is by obtaining 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 acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Casa Grande AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to think about as well, including 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 considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Casa Grande AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Casa Grande AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Casa Grande AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Casa Grande AZ area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense 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 offset part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Casa Grande AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Casa Grande AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures 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 greater 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 reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Casa Grande AZ?
If you live near Casa Grande 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.
Casa Grande, Arizona
Casa Grande (O'odham: Wainom Wo:g) is a city in Pinal County, approximately halfway between Phoenix and Tucson in the U.S. state of Arizona. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 48,571. It is named after the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which is actually located in Coolidge. "Casa Grande" is Spanish for "big house".
Casa Grande was founded in 1879 during the Arizona mining boom, specifically due to the presence of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In January 1880, the community of Terminus, meaning "end-of-the-line," was established despite consisting of just five residents and three buildings. In September 1880, railroad executives renamed the settlement Casa Grande, after the Hohokam ruins at the nearby Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Casa Grande grew slowly, and suffered several setbacks both in 1886 and 1893, when fires ravaged the town, destroying all wooden housing structures within it. When the mining boom slowed in the 1890s, the town was nearly abandoned, but with the advent of agriculture, the town remained alive and well, and was eventually incorporated in 1915.
According to historian David Leighton, during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, a Japanese-American relocation camp was set up outside of Casa Grande, known as the Gila River War Relocation Center. Two notable people that were interned there were future actor Pat Morita and baseball player Kenichi Zenimura, who constructed a baseball field and set up a league in the relocation camp.
Select the Best Paralegal Training near Casa Grande AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Casa Grande residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Casa Grande AZ.
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