How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Glendale Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Glendale AZ and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving distance of their Glendale homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Glendale AZ with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Glendale AZ paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, 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 limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number 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 prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Glendale AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Glendale AZ.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Glendale AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases 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 cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Glendale AZ area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential 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 factors to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Glendale AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Glendale AZ paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind 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 an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise 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 programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those colleges that are within your Glendale AZ local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Glendale AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Glendale AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Glendale AZ?
Glendale /ˈɡlɛndeɪl/ is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located about nine miles (14 km) northwest from Downtown Phoenix. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 226,721.
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.
In 1891, Burgess Hadsell worked with Murphy to bring 70 Brethren and River Brethren families to Glendale to form a temperance colony. Soon settlers, attracted by the town's ban on alcoholic beverages, continued to arrive. In 1895, Murphy platted the original town site and amended the plat to include a town park and some business lots. It was bounded by Lamar Road on the south, 55th Avenue on the east, Myrtle Avenue on the north, and 59th Avenue on the west. The construction of a railroad from Prescott to Phoenix was made possible with an exchange of the right-of-way made by Murphy along Grand Avenue. The railroad allowed Glendale settlers to transport goods to the north and easily receive building materials.
Choose the Best Paralegal School near Glendale AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Glendale home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Glendale AZ.
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