How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Litchfield Park Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Litchfield Park AZ and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Litchfield Park homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Litchfield Park AZ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. 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 administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly 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 number of clients or cases than they could alone.
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. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Litchfield Park AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Litchfield Park AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 previously covered, there are other significant issues to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. 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 Litchfield Park AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Litchfield Park AZ law firms 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 could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Litchfield Park AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those schools that are within the Litchfield Park AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Litchfield Park AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Litchfield Park AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more common and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Litchfield Park AZ?
If you live near Litchfield Park 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.
Litchfield Park, Arizona
The town of Litchfield Park is a historically affluent community outside of Phoenix named after its founder, Paul Weeks Litchfield (1875–1959). He was an executive of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company who came to the Phoenix area in 1916 in search of suitable land to farm a long-staple cotton that had previously been available only from the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and from Egypt. This cotton was needed to strengthen the rubber in the pneumatic tire, of which Goodyear was the world's largest producer. The east coast cotton supply had been devastated by the boll weevil and the African supply had been greatly reduced by World War I attacks from German U-boats. Litchfield went to the Phoenix area at the suggestion of the United States Department of Agriculture, but he was not successful in motivating local farmers to grow his cotton. Instead he got Goodyear to form the Southwest Cotton Company in Phoenix, with Litchfield as its president, eventually purchasing some 36,000 acres in the general Salt River Valley area including 5,000 acres around the present site of Litchfield Park, then known as Litchfield Ranch. Much of the land was bought for as little as $25 per acre. The cotton was cultivated with a workforce of mostly Mexican and Native American men. The U.S. Postal Service agreed to the name "Litchfield Park" in 1926. In 1929, the Wigwam Resort was opened to the public. In 1926, Litchfield went on to become the president of the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, and then Chairman of the Board in 1930. He retired from the company in 1958, and spent the final months of his life as a resident of Litchfield Park at his home on Fairway Drive.
In 1964, Goodyear created Litchfield Park Land and Development Co. to expand Litchfield Park into a 90,000 resident community.Arden E. Goodyear was the head of the company, Patrick Cusick was vice president and general manager, and Victor Gruen was hired to design some of the buildings. Emanuel Cartsonis, who had worked with Cusick became city planner. The plan called for 25,000 homes, a college, a junior college, eighteen elementary schools, ten junior high schools, and six high schools, as well as improvements to the town's golf course and harness track at an expense of at least 750 million dollars. Goodyear made many mistakes during development, including selling properties right up to the curb line, which means that the city must get permission from property owners before they can put in a sidewalk. They abandoned their plans for expanding Litchfield Park before they were completed and sold whatever land they could.
Litchfield Park had a population of 5,476 at the 2010 census. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 74.3% non-Hispanic white, 3.5% black or African American, 1.0% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0.1% non-Hispanic from some other race, 2.8% two or more races and 15.4% Hispanic or Latino.
Enroll in the Ideal Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Litchfield Park AZ
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Litchfield Park residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Litchfield Park AZ.
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