How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Laveen Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Laveen AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Laveen homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available 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 positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Laveen AZ lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may 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 attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents 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 proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because 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 on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in Laveen AZ is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Laveen AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 already covered, there are other significant aspects to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Laveen AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Laveen AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Laveen AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within the Laveen AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Laveen AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Laveen AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Laveen AZ?
If you live near Laveen 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.
Laveen /ləˈviːn/ is an "urban village" within the city of Phoenix in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, situated eight miles (13 km) southwest of Downtown Phoenix between South Mountain and the confluence of the Gila and Salt rivers. Parts of Laveen constitute an unincorporated community in Maricopa County, while the remainder falls within the city limits of Phoenix, constituting the city's "Laveen Village". Laveen Village is split between District 7 and District 8, both notable as minority-majority districts for the city. Although Laveen has been home to "pastoral alfalfa, cotton, and dairy farms" since the 1880s, housing and commercial developments have been increasingly urbanizing the area.
The Laveen area was first settled by farmers and dairymen in 1884. Despite its proximity to Phoenix, the community was isolated from its larger neighbor by the Salt River, which until the Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911 carried water year-round. The only bridged crossing was at Central Avenue, more than six miles (10 km) away. Because of its isolation, like the rest of south Phoenix early Laveen was autonomous of Phoenix and became relatively self-sufficient, supporting two general stores, a barbershop, repair garage, two pool halls, and a building for the Laveen Women's Club. These businesses served as important gathering places for the greater Laveen community, which includes modern south Phoenix and the neighboring Gila River Indian Community (GRIC)
In the early 1900s, Walter E. Laveen and his family homesteaded an area encompassing all four corners of present-day 51st Avenue and Dobbins Road, where they also built the area's first general store—the Laveen Store—on the southeast corner. Members of the Laveen family donated land adjacent to their store for a school, which was built in 1913 and named Laveen School. A second general store, the Del Monte Market, was built in 1908 at 27th Avenue and Dobbins Road and is considered the oldest still standing building in Laveen.
How to Choose Paralegal Certification Training Laveen AZ
Choosing the right paralegal studies degree program is a vital 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 How to Choose Paralegal Certification Training. But as we have addressed 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 Laveen residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education 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 ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Laveen AZ.
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