How to Select a Paralegal Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Scottsdale AZ and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Scottsdale homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 hold the same 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 lawyers in Scottsdale AZ with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Scottsdale AZ paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Scottsdale AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Scottsdale AZ.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for students in Scottsdale AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of assessing Scottsdale AZ area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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 as well. Many Scottsdale AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Scottsdale AZ paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education 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 suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Scottsdale AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish 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 first investigate those schools that are within your Scottsdale AZ local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Scottsdale AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times 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 Scottsdale AZ, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Scottsdale AZ?
Scottsdale (O'odham: Vaṣai S-vaṣonĭ; Yaqui: Eskatel) is a city in the eastern part of Maricopa County, Arizona, part of the Greater Phoenix Area. Named Scottsdale in 1894 after founder Winfield Scott and incorporated in 1951 with a population of 2,000, the 2015 population of the city is estimated to be 236,839 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.The New York Times described downtown Scottsdale as "a desert version of Miami's South Beach" and as having "plenty of late night partying and a buzzing hotel scene." Its slogan is "The West's Most Western Town."
Scottsdale, 31 miles long and 11.4 miles wide at its widest point, shares boundaries with many other municipalities and entities. On the west, Scottsdale is bordered by Phoenix, Paradise Valley and unincorporated Maricopa County land. Carefree is located along the western boundary, as well as sharing Scottsdale's northern boundary with the Tonto National Forest. To the south Scottsdale is bordered by Tempe. The southern boundary is also occupied by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which extends along the eastern boundary, which also borders Fountain Hills, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and more unincorporated Maricopa County land.
The area which would include what would become Scottsdale was originally inhabited by the Hohokam, from approximately 300 BC to 1450 AD. This ancient civilization farmed the area and developed a complex network of canals for irrigation which was unsurpassed in pre-Columbian North America. At its peak, the canals stretched over 250 miles, many of which built remains extant today, some having been renovated and put back into use in the 20th century. Under still-mysterious circumstances, the Hohokam disappeared around 1450 or 1500, the most likely theory having to do with a prolonged drought. The area's later occupants, the Pima and O'odham (also known as the Papago), are thought to be the direct descendants of the Hohokam people.
Before European settlement, Scottsdale was a Pima village known as Vaṣai S-vaṣonĭ, meaning "rotting hay." Some Pima remained in their original homes well into the 20th century. For example, until the late 1960s, there was a still-occupied traditional dwelling on the southeast corner of Indian Bend Road and Hayden Road. Currently, those Pima who live within Scottsdale reside in newer homes rather than traditional dwellings. Many Pima and Maricopa people continue to reside on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which borders Scottsdale directly to the south and east.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Training near Scottsdale AZ
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital 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 participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Scottsdale home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Scottsdale AZ.
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