How to Select the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Glendale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Glendale AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Glendale residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Glendale AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon 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, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform 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 firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Glendale AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Glendale AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Glendale AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? 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 make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking 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 contact a few Glendale AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Glendale AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good 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’s Location? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want 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 might want to first look at those schools that are within the Glendale AZ region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending 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 add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Glendale AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Glendale AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Glendale AZ?
If you live near Glendale 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.
Glendale /ˈɡlɛndeɪl/ is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located about nine miles (14 km) northwest from Downtown Phoenix. According to the 2017 U.S. Census estimates, the population of the city is 246,709.
In the late 1800s what is now known as Glendale, Arizona, was all desert. William John Murphy, a native of New Hartford, New York, who resided in the town of Flagstaff in what was then known as the territory of Arizona, was in charge of building a 40-mile-long (64 km) Arizona Canal from Granite Reef to New River for the Arizona Canal Company. In 1885, he completed the canal, which would bring water to the desert land. Murphy was deep in debt, since he had agreed to be paid in Arizona Canal Company stock and bonds and land instead of cash.
In 1887, Murphy formed the Arizona Improvement Company. His objective was to sell the land and water rights south of the canal. Murphy had to raise capital from out of state sources in order to meet payroll and construction expenses. Murphy decided to refer to this land as "Glendale". In order to develop and interest potential investors and settlers in this new town, Murphy decided to provide a better way of access from Phoenix to Glendale and ending in the town of Peoria by building an 18-mile-long (29 km) diagonal road which he named Grand Avenue.
Education Paralegal Glendale AZ
Selecting the right paralegal certificate school is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Education Paralegal. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Glendale home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, 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 pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Glendale AZ.
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