How to Find a Paralegal School near Avondale Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Avondale AZ and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Avondale homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly 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 for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Avondale AZ with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Avondale AZ paralegal can be involved and very demanding. 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 confined to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Avondale AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address 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 Avondale AZ.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for those in Avondale AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Avondale AZ area schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational 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 critical factors to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Avondale AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Avondale AZ paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Avondale AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduating. 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 area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Avondale AZ local region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Avondale AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Avondale AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Avondale AZ?
Avondale, incorporated in 1946, experienced rapid residential and commercial growth in the years since 1980. Once primarily a sparsely populated farming community with many acres of alfalfa and cotton fields, Avondale has transformed into a major bedroom suburb for Phoenix. Several major residential subdivisions and shopping centers have recently been built on former farmland, many adjacent to Interstate 10.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.3 square miles (107 km2), of which, 41.3 square miles (107 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.15%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,883 people, 10,640 households, and 8,724 families residing in the city. The population density was 869.7 people per square mile (335.8/km²). There were 11,419 housing units at an average density of 276.8 per square mile (106.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 63.27% White, 5.20% Black or African American, 1.28% Native American, 1.89% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 24.32% from other races, and 3.89% from two or more races. 46.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 10,640 households out of which 47.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.9% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.0% were non-families. 12.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age. The average household size was 3.36 and the average family size was 3.66.
Choose the Right Paralegal Training near Avondale AZ
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Avondale home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Avondale AZ.
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