How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Paradise Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Paradise Valley AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Paradise Valley residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill the same job positions and functions, just 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 Paradise Valley AZ lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, 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 restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Paradise Valley AZ is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. 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 many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue 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 job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Paradise Valley AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Paradise Valley AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 contact a few Paradise Valley AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Paradise Valley AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. 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 confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Paradise Valley AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Paradise Valley AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Paradise Valley AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Paradise Valley AZ?
If you live near Paradise Valley 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.
Paradise Valley, Arizona
Paradise Valley is a small, affluent town in Maricopa County, Arizona. It is the wealthiest municipality in Arizona. The town is known for its luxury golf courses, shopping, and restaurant scene. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 12,820. Despite the town's relatively small area and population compared to other municipalities in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Paradise Valley is home to eight full-service resorts, making it one of Arizona's premier tourist destinations. It is also known for expensive real estate.
It should not be confused with Paradise Valley Village, an official municipal designation, in northeast Phoenix. For instance, Paradise Valley Community College, Paradise Valley High School, Paradise Valley Hospital, Paradise Valley Mall, and Paradise Valley Golf Course are all located several miles to the north of the town, in Phoenix. The town's name along with all the other various entities bearing the same name comes from the expansive area known as Paradise Valley, that spreads from north of the Phoenix Mountains to Cave Creek and Carefree on the north and the McDowell Mountains to the east.
The Paradise Valley Unified School District is one of the largest in the state, though like many other institutions with the name Paradise Valley, it refers to the Phoenix village, and not to the town.
Paralegal Degree Schools Paradise Valley AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal studies degree school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Degree Schools. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Paradise Valley home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Paradise Valley AZ.
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