How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near El Mirage Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near El Mirage AZ and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their El Mirage residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account as well. 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 selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options 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 hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in El Mirage AZ with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a El Mirage AZ paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in El Mirage AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in El Mirage AZ.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for those in El Mirage AZ searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of assessing El Mirage AZ area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 already discussed, there are other important factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected 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 training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many El Mirage AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the El Mirage AZ paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the El Mirage AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those schools that are within your El Mirage AZ local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in El Mirage AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near El Mirage AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in El Mirage AZ?
El Mirage, Arizona
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,609 people, 2,121 households, and 1,737 families residing in the city. The population density was 786.8 people per square mile (303.8/km²). There were 3,162 housing units at an average density of 326.9 per square mile (126.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.26% White, 3.29% Black or African American, 0.85% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 26.18% from other races, and 2.98% from two or more races. 66.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,121 households out of which 48.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.1% were non-families. 13.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.59 and the average family size was 3.87.
In the city, the population was spread out with 36.8% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 13.8% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,813, and the median income for a family was $33,468. Males had a median income of $25,176 versus $19,192 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,342. About 12.6% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.2% of those under age 18 and 22.0% of those age 65 or over.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Training near El Mirage AZ
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your El Mirage home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in El Mirage AZ.
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