How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Casa Grande Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Casa Grande AZ and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Casa Grande residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered too. Later 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 have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Casa Grande AZ with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Casa Grande AZ paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. 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 action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Casa Grande AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Casa Grande AZ.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for students in Casa Grande AZ looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address 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 sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing Casa Grande AZ area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to think about 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 researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization 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 education. 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. Many Casa Grande AZ law firms will only employ 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? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Casa Grande AZ paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program 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 call several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Casa Grande AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want 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 may want to first investigate those schools that are within your Casa Grande AZ local region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Casa Grande AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Casa Grande AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Casa Grande AZ?
Casa Grande, Arizona
Casa Grande (O'odham: Wainom Wo:g) is a city in Pinal County, approximately halfway between Phoenix and Tucson in the U.S. state of Arizona. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 48,571. It is named after the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which is actually located in Coolidge. "Casa Grande" is Spanish for "big house".
Casa Grande was founded in 1879 during the Arizona mining boom, specifically due to the presence of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In January 1880, the community of Terminus, meaning "end-of-the-line," was established despite consisting of just five residents and three buildings. In September 1880, railroad executives renamed the settlement Casa Grande, after the Hohokam ruins at the nearby Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Casa Grande grew slowly, and suffered several setbacks both in 1886 and 1893, when fires ravaged the town, destroying all wooden housing structures within it. When the mining boom slowed in the 1890s, the town was nearly abandoned, but with the advent of agriculture, the town remained alive and well, and was eventually incorporated in 1915.
According to historian David Leighton, during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, a Japanese-American relocation camp was set up outside of Casa Grande, known as the Gila River War Relocation Center. Two notable people that were interned there were future actor Pat Morita and baseball player Kenichi Zenimura, who constructed a baseball field and set up a league in the relocation camp.
Casa Grande is home to Francisco Grande Hotel & Golf Resort, former spring training location for the San Francisco Giants. Then owner, Horace Stoneham, began developing the property in 1959. The first exhibition game was played in Casa Grande in 1961, with Willie Mays hitting a 375-foot (114 m) home run. The San Francisco Giants no longer play at Francisco Grande, but the pool in a baseball bat and ball shape remains in memory of the past ballgames.
Find the Right Paralegal Program near Casa Grande AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Casa Grande residence. Paralegal training programs are provided 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 selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Casa Grande AZ.
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