How to Find a Paralegal College near Laveen Arizona
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Laveen AZ and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Laveen residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Laveen AZ with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable 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 documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Laveen AZ paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more suited 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 manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Laveen AZ as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arizona to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Laveen AZ.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals in Laveen AZ looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Laveen AZ area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Laveen AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Laveen AZ paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Laveen AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Laveen AZ local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Laveen AZ. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Laveen AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Laveen AZ?
Laveen /ləˈviːn/ is an "urban village" within the city of Phoenix in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, situated eight miles (13 km) southwest of Downtown Phoenix between South Mountain and the confluence of the Gila and Salt rivers. Parts of Laveen constitute an unincorporated community in Maricopa County, while the remainder falls within the city limits of Phoenix, constituting the city's "Laveen Village". Laveen Village is split between District 7 and District 8, both notable as minority-majority districts for the city. Although Laveen has been home to "pastoral alfalfa, cotton, and dairy farms" since the 1880s, housing and commercial developments have been increasingly urbanizing the area.
The Laveen area was first settled by farmers and dairymen in 1884. Despite its proximity to Phoenix, the community was isolated from its larger neighbor by the Salt River, which until the Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911 carried water year-round. The only bridged crossing was at Central Avenue, more than six miles (10 km) away. Because of its isolation, like the rest of south Phoenix early Laveen was autonomous of Phoenix and became relatively self-sufficient, supporting two general stores, a barbershop, repair garage, two pool halls, and a building for the Laveen Women's Club. These businesses served as important gathering places for the greater Laveen community, which includes modern south Phoenix and the neighboring Gila River Indian Community (GRIC)
In the early 1900s, Walter E. Laveen and his family homesteaded an area encompassing all four corners of present-day 51st Avenue and Dobbins Road, where they also built the area's first general store—the Laveen Store—on the southeast corner. Members of the Laveen family donated land adjacent to their store for a school, which was built in 1913 and named Laveen School. A second general store, the Del Monte Market, was built in 1908 at 27th Avenue and Dobbins Road and is considered the oldest still standing building in Laveen.
In 1915, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation noted the community was called Laveen and had a population of less than 25. In March 1918, Walter Laveen was appointed the area's first postmaster, operating the post office in the back of his store. Laveen later served as Sheriff in Pinal County, Arizona.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Training near Laveen AZ
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward 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 privacy and comfort of your Laveen residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Different 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 selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose 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 decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Laveen AZ.
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