How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Chandler Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Chandler AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal 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 increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Chandler residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same 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 separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Chandler AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. 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 may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Chandler AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Chandler AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to consider as well, including 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 researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Chandler AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Chandler AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Chandler AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire 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 reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Chandler AZ region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Chandler AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Chandler AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover 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 sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Chandler AZ?
If you live near Chandler 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.
Chandler is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, and a prominent suburb of the Phoenix, Arizona, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It is bordered to the north and west by Tempe, to the north by Mesa, to the west by Phoenix, to the south by the Gila River Indian Community, and to the east by Gilbert. As of 2017, the population was estimated at 253,458 according to the United States Census Bureau.
In 1891, Dr. Alexander John Chandler, the first veterinary surgeon in Arizona Territory, settled on a ranch south of Mesa, studying irrigation engineering. By 1900, he had acquired 18,000 acres (73 km2) of land, and began drawing up plans for a townsite on what was then known as the Chandler Ranch. The townsite office opened on May 17, 1912, the same year that Chandler High School was established. The townsite was bounded by Galveston Street on the north, Frye Road on the south, Hartford Street on the west, and Hamilton Street on the east. By 1913, a town center had become established, featuring the Hotel San Marcos, the first golf resort in the state.
Most of Chandler's economy was successfully sustained during the Great Depression (a second San Marcos hotel was canceled due to the Depression however), but the cotton crash a few years later had a much deeper impact on the city's residents. Later, the founding of Williams Air Force Base in 1941 led to a small surge in population, but Chandler still only held 3,800 people by 1950. By 1980, it had grown to 30,000, and it has since paced the Phoenix metropolitan area's high rate of growth, with vast suburban residential areas swallowing former agricultural plots. Some of this growth was fueled by the establishment of manufacturing plants for communications and computing firms such as Microchip, Motorola and Intel.
Paralegal Assistant Training Chandler AZ
Selecting the right paralegal training school is a crucial 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 Assistant Training. But as we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Chandler residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Chandler AZ.
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