How to Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near El Mirage Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near El Mirage AZ and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their El Mirage homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective 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 available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, 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 assist El Mirage AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, 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 work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel 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 really 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 clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in El Mirage AZ is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the El Mirage AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many El Mirage AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few El Mirage AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the El Mirage AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those schools that are within the El Mirage AZ region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in El Mirage AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced 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 solely attend night or weekend classes near El Mirage 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 select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected 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 may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near El Mirage AZ?
If you live near El Mirage 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.
El Mirage, Arizona
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,609 people, 2,121 households, and 1,737 families residing in the city. The population density was 786.8 people per square mile (303.8/km²). There were 3,162 housing units at an average density of 326.9 per square mile (126.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.26% White, 3.29% Black or African American, 0.85% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 26.18% from other races, and 2.98% from two or more races. 66.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,121 households out of which 48.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.1% were non-families. 13.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.59 and the average family size was 3.87.
In the city, the population was spread out with 36.8% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 13.8% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males.
Universities That Offer Paralegal Degrees El Mirage AZ
Selecting the ideal paralegal certificate program is an essential 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 Universities That Offer Paralegal Degrees. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your El Mirage home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in El Mirage AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 248