How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Gilbert Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Gilbert AZ and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Gilbert homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Gilbert AZ with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Gilbert AZ paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main 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 volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career in Gilbert AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Gilbert AZ.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good option for students in Gilbert AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Gilbert AZ area schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Gilbert AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Gilbert AZ paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, 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 enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Gilbert AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to work. 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 initially consider those schools that are within your Gilbert AZ local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Gilbert AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Gilbert 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 enroll in offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Gilbert AZ?
Gilbert is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located southeast of Phoenix, within the Phoenix metropolitan area. Once known as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World", Gilbert is currently the most populous incorporated town in the United States. It is the sixth-largest municipality in Arizona, and the fifth-largest in the Metropolitan Phoenix Area.
Gilbert encompasses 76 square miles (197 km2) and has made a rapid transformation from an agriculture-based community to an economically diverse suburban center located in the southeast valley of the Greater Phoenix area. In the last three decades, Gilbert has grown at an extremely high rate, increasing in population from 5,717 in 1980 to 208,453 as of the 2010 census. The town grew at an average annual growth rate of nearly 13% during this 30-year period.
Gilbert owes its beginnings to William "Bobby" Gilbert who provided land to the Arizona Eastern Railway in 1902 to construct a rail line between Phoenix and Florence, Arizona. Ayer's Grocery Store, the first store in Gilbert, opened in 1910 and became the location of the first post office in 1912. The location of the town post office moved several times before settling on the east side of Gilbert Road in downtown, where it still stands today. In 1912, many Mormons who had fled the Mormon colonies in Mexico due to the actions of the forces of Pancho Villa settled in Gilbert. By 1915, they began holding church meetings at the Gilbert Elementary School. In 1918, they were organized into the Gilbert Ward.
Incorporated in July 1920, Gilbert was primarily a farming community fueled by the rail line and construction of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Consolidated Canals. It remained an agricultural town for many years and was known as the "Hay Capital of the World" from 1911 until the late 1920s.
Select the Best Paralegal College near Gilbert AZ
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is an important first step toward 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 privacy and comfort of your Gilbert home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best 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 presented you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Gilbert AZ.
Other Cool Cities in Arizona
Business Results 1 - 10 of 388