How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Training Program near Goodyear Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Goodyear AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Goodyear residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Goodyear AZ attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand 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 number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Goodyear AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Goodyear AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get 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 establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Goodyear AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Goodyear AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Goodyear AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Goodyear AZ region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Goodyear AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Goodyear AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Goodyear AZ?
If you live near Goodyear 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.
Goodyear (O'odham: Valin Thak) is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. It is a suburb of Phoenix and at the 2010 census had a population of 65,275, the third fastest-growing city in Arizona between 1990 and 2000. The 2017 population estimate was 79,858.
In 2008, Goodyear won the All-America City Award, sponsored by the National Civic League. The city is named after the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The company cultivated extensive farmland here to grow cotton for use in their tires.
Goodyear was established in 1917 with the purchase of 16,000 acres (65 km2) of land by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to cultivate cotton for vehicle tire cords. World War II was important to Goodyear in the 1940s as the current Phoenix Goodyear Airport was built, but after the war, the economy suffered. Goodyear became a town on November 19, 1946. At the time, it had 151 homes and 250 apartments, a grocery store, a barber shop, beauty shop and a gas station.
Associates In Paralegal Studies Online Goodyear AZ
Selecting the best legal assistant degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Associates In Paralegal Studies Online. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Goodyear residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Goodyear AZ.
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