How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Casa Grande Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Casa Grande AZ and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive 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 a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Casa Grande residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account 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 prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Casa Grande AZ attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Casa Grande AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Casa Grande AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get 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 obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Casa Grande AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Casa Grande AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Casa Grande AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those colleges that are within the Casa Grande AZ area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Casa Grande AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Casa Grande AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Casa Grande AZ?
If you live near Casa Grande Arizona or perhaps 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 U.S. Census estimates, the population of the city is 55,477 as of 2017. It is named after the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which is actually located in Coolidge. "Casa Grande" is Spanish for "big house". Among resident English speakers, there is no consensus on how to pronounce the city’s name. 
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.
Paralegal Diploma Online Casa Grande AZ
Selecting the right paralegal certificate program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Diploma Online. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Casa Grande home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Casa Grande AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
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