Paralegal Schools & Programs Phoenix, AZ
Working in the legal field is a fascinating vocation that can provide a demanding yet extremely rewarding career. However, for some people, seven to ten years of college to become an attorney is not something they want or can do.
However, there is a viable alternative: paralegal programs will help you become a paralegal and enjoy a challenging, well paid career in almost any branch of law.
Also known in some circles as legal assistants, paralegals are skilled legal professionals who are called on to assist a supervising attorney in every aspect of their day-to-day practice of the law. From extensive legal research to legal document preparation, court filings and much more increasing paralegals are being asked to undertake tasks that were once reserved only for junior lawyers.
There are no formal licensing or certification requirements imposed by the state in Arizona for an individual to work as a paralegal. Optional certification is available on a national level from several organizations, with the most popular being the NALA certification.
However, as a paralegal's supervising attorney is legally responsible for everything their team does most employers, especially in the world of corporate law, do tend to give hiring preference to those who have completed a formal training course at one of the paralegal schools in Phoenix, AZ.
This is especially true of corporate law firms and government agencies, as well as court systems themselves, who, in Arizona often make use of paralegals themselves.
Paralegal schools offer a variety of educational programs that prepare students for an entry level job as a legal assistant while also offering them a taste of the profession they will be joining firsthand, often via externships with real world employers.
Paralegal Phoenix Salaries
Before making a big career change, or investing time and money in formal education, it is a smart move to understand more about the salary and job growth prospects of becoming a paralegal in Phoenix, Arizona.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics1, the average annual salary for paralegals in Phoenix, AZ is $50,940, a figure lower than the national average of $55,020, but still a good wage by the state's standards.
The actual salary people earn working as a legal assistant will vary according to the branch of the law they work in, the law firm or company they work for and their level of experience. Entry level paralegals are likely to fall into the lowest 10% of earners, whose average salary is estimated by the BLS at $26,640. The highest earners however can command salaries of more than $76,000 per annum.
Expected growth for paralegal employment in Phoenix, AZ is promising as well. BLS figures2 predict by about 21% between 2016 and 2026, thanks to the fact that an increasing number of law firms are cutting operational costs by employing qualified paralegals to do more and more of the work once performed by attorneys.
Paralegal Schools in Phoenix, AZ
Bryan University is a private university that. For those interested in the paralegal profession they offer an American Bar Association approved two-year, campus based Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and Litigation Technologies. This is a comprehensive program that offers an overview of the responsibilities of a paralegal, legal research via Lexis Nexis, legal ethics considerations and specialist knowledge required for immigration, family, and personal law. Students also complete a school arranged externship prior to graduation. Acceptance to the program is made on academic merit, with students required to hold a high school diploma or GED and have attained minimum SAT scores. Those admitted are charged tuition on a prorated per credit basis according to their personal income and family situation. Most students pay for their schooling with traditional financial aid.
Rio Salado College
Located just outside Phoenix in Tempe, Rio Salado College is a traditional community college offering affordable education to Maricopa County residents. The school offers both an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal and a Post Degree Certificate for those who already hold a degree in another subject. The AAS program takes two years to complete, while the Certificate can be completed in around 12 months on a full-time basis. Classes are offered on campus and the legal component of both offerings is the same. Students are given a comprehensive overview of the skills and knowledge needed to work as an entry level paralegal as well as the ethics they must follow when they do. Admissions are based on academic performance in the past and personal interviews. Those who are accepted are charged at a per credit rate for their tuition, the cost of which varies according to their personal situation, with the lowest rates charged to Maricopa County residents. Most students obtain federal financial aid to pay for school.
National Paralegal College
National Paralegal College is an online learning intuition that offers several educational options to those interested in becoming a paralegal. In addition to an AAS and BA in Paralegal Studies they also offer a Certificate Program for those who already hold a degree in another subject. As is the case for most degrees the AAS can be completed in two years, the BA in four. Candidates for the BA program are usually those interested in working in corporate law and will need to meet stricter academic standards. All classes are completed online using a combination of pre-written materials and live classes. They are charged on a per-course basis, with the cost of each course set at $975. The total will depend on the number of courses taken. The Certificate program is a four-course offering, the Associates Degree and BA programs vary, and the school does offer a net price calculator to help you determine your personal costs. All programs are American Bar Association approved and provide a comprehensive overview of the skills needed to achieve their career goals and work as an entry level paralegal in their chosen legal specialty.
Paralegal Resources in Arizona
Arizona Association of Independent Paralegals
Arizona Paralegal Association Job Bank
Maricopa County Bar Association Paralegal Division
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. O*NET OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00