How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Program near Sun City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Sun City AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Sun City homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable 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 different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Sun City AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Sun City AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices 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 Sun City AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Sun City AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 some Sun City AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Sun City AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Sun City AZ area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Sun City AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Sun City AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Sun City AZ?
If you live near Sun City 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.
Sun City, Arizona
Sun City is a census-designated place and unincorporated community in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, that is within the Phoenix metropolitan area. The population was 37,499 according to the 2010 census. Its adjoining sister city is Sun City West. Both cities are retirement communities popular with snowbirds.
Sun City was opened January 1, 1960, with five home models, a shopping center, a recreation center, and a golf course. The opening weekend drew 100,000 people, ten times more than expected, and resulted in a Time magazine cover story. The future retirement community was built on the site of the former ghost town of Marinette. Developer Del E. Webb expanded Sun City over the years, and his company went on to build other retirement communities in the Sun Belt. Sun City West was built in the late 1970s, Sun City Grand in the late 1990s, Sun City Anthem in 1999, and Sun City Festival in July 2006.
The community is well known to law students, as it is featured in the case Spur Industries v. Del E. Webb Development Co., 494 P.2d 700 (Ariz. 1972), commonly used in first-year property law courses to illustrate nuisance law.
Legal Assistant Online Training Sun City AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies degree program is an important 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 Legal Assistant Online Training. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Sun City home. Paralegal training programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Sun City AZ.
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Paralegal Studies | California State University, East Bay
She also teaches the Introduction to Paralegalism class. Thornberry currently works as a real estate paralegal in a land development business. She is also a licensed realtor. Thornberry previously worked for the law firm of Burnham and Brown. Thornberry earned her Paralegal Certificate from California State University, East Bay in 1993.
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Paralegal Salary and Outlook by State
As you plan your paralegal career, you should consider the following areas that may contribute to your earning potential.. Education. Paralegal salary can be influenced by their education level. According to O*NET OnLine, 34% of job incumbents and subject matter experts reported that a bachelor’s degree is needed for paralegals; 50% reported that paralegals should have an associate’s ...