How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Litchfield Park Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Litchfield Park AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial 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 academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Litchfield Park residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Litchfield Park AZ with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions 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 the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Litchfield Park AZ paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, 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 restricted to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
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. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Litchfield Park AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Litchfield Park AZ.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more common and may be an excellent option for students in Litchfield Park AZ looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Litchfield Park AZ area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to consider also, 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 investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Litchfield Park AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Litchfield Park AZ paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Litchfield Park AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Litchfield Park AZ local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Litchfield Park AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Litchfield Park AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Litchfield Park AZ?
Litchfield Park, Arizona
Litchfield Park is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. It is twenty miles northwest of Phoenix. According to the U.S. Census, the population of the city was estimated to be 6,009 as of 2017.
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.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Litchfield Park AZ
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Litchfield Park residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating 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 review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Litchfield Park AZ.
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