How to Select the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Litchfield Park Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Litchfield Park AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Litchfield Park homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same 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 separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Litchfield Park AZ attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as 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 are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically 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 Litchfield Park AZ is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate 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 earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Litchfield Park AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Litchfield Park AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Litchfield Park AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Litchfield Park AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. 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 good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Litchfield Park AZ region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Litchfield Park AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Litchfield Park AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Litchfield Park AZ?
If you live near Litchfield Park 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.
Litchfield Park, Arizona
The town of Litchfield Park is a historically affluent community outside of Phoenix named after its founder, Paul Weeks Litchfield (1875–1959). He was an executive of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company who came to the Phoenix area in 1916 in search of suitable land to farm a long-staple cotton that had previously been available only from the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and from Egypt. This cotton was needed to strengthen the rubber in the pneumatic tire, of which Goodyear was the world's largest producer. The east coast cotton supply had been devastated by the boll weevil and the African supply had been greatly reduced by World War I attacks from German U-boats. Litchfield went to the Phoenix area at the suggestion of the United States Department of Agriculture, but he was not successful in motivating local farmers to grow his cotton. Instead he got Goodyear to form the Southwest Cotton Company in Phoenix, with Litchfield as its president, eventually purchasing some 36,000 acres in the general Salt River Valley area including 5,000 acres around the present site of Litchfield Park, then known as Litchfield Ranch. Much of the land was bought for as little as $25 per acre. The cotton was cultivated with a workforce of mostly Mexican and Native American men. The U.S. Postal Service agreed to the name "Litchfield Park" in 1926. In 1929, the Wigwam Resort was opened to the public. In 1926, Litchfield went on to become the president of the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, and then Chairman of the Board in 1930. He retired from the company in 1958, and spent the final months of his life as a resident of Litchfield Park at his home on Fairway Drive.
In 1964, Goodyear created Litchfield Park Land and Development Co. to expand Litchfield Park into a 90,000 resident community.Arden E. Goodyear was the head of the company, Patrick Cusick was vice president and general manager, and Victor Gruen was hired to design some of the buildings. Emanuel Cartsonis, who had worked with Cusick became city planner. The plan called for 25,000 homes, a college, a junior college, eighteen elementary schools, ten junior high schools, and six high schools, as well as improvements to the town's golf course and harness track at an expense of at least 750 million dollars. Goodyear made many mistakes during development, including selling properties right up to the curb line, which means that the city must get permission from property owners before they can put in a sidewalk. They abandoned their plans for expanding Litchfield Park before they were completed and sold whatever land they could.
Litchfield Park had a population of 5,476 at the 2010 census. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 74.3% non-Hispanic white, 3.5% black or African American, 1.0% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0.1% non-Hispanic from some other race, 2.8% two or more races and 15.4% Hispanic or Latino.
How to Choose Paralegal Studies Schools Litchfield Park AZ
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a crucial 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 How to Choose Paralegal Studies Schools. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Litchfield Park residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior 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. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Litchfield Park AZ.
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