How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Coolidge Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Coolidge AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Coolidge residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices 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 functions, only 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 lawyers in Coolidge AZ with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Coolidge AZ paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Coolidge AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Coolidge AZ.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for students in Coolidge AZ looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Coolidge AZ area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate 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 prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on 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 demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Coolidge AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Coolidge AZ paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Coolidge AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance 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 substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within your Coolidge AZ local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Coolidge AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Coolidge AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Coolidge AZ?
Coolidge is home of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. The monument was the first historic site to receive protected status by the United States Government in 1892. The ancient city was built about 1200 AD. by the Hohokam people.
Coolidge is located at 32°58′38″N 111°31′23″W / 32.97722°N 111.52306°W / 32.97722; -111.52306 (32.977105, -111.522933). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.0 square miles (13 km2), all of it land.
Arizona Highway 87 and Arizona Highway 287 pass through the town. Coolidge is 56 miles (90 km) southeast of Phoenix, and 69 miles (111 km) northwest of Tucson. It is 21 miles (34 km) northeast of Casa Grande and 11 miles southwest of Florence. Picacho Reservoir is just 11 miles (18 km) south of town.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,786 people, 2,585 households, and 1,938 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,549.1 people per square mile (597.7/km²). There were 3,212 housing units at an average density of 639.1 per square mile (246.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.85% White, 8.30% Black or African American, 5.63% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 23.58% from other races, and 3.88% from two or more races. 39.20% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Best Paralegal Training near Coolidge AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational 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 option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Coolidge home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding 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 have the ability to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Coolidge AZ.
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