Paralegal Programs in Phoenix, AZ
The role of a paralegal – sometimes also referred to as a legal assistant – is an increasingly important one in legal departments across the country. You’ll find paralegals working on legal teams in high-powered white shoe corporate law firms, small independent ones, in government at all levels, with nonprofits and charities, and even within state and federal level prosecution and defense teams.
The opportunities that exist for well- qualified paralegals in Arizona are plentiful, challenging and well-paid.
Entry-Level Paralegal Programs in Phoenix, AZ
While a paralegal does not have to go through the seven years (or more) of formal college education that an attorney does, they do need to complete some post secondary schooling to meet the requirements of the vast majority of employers.
Paralegal schools in Arizona offer three basic educational paths for would-be paralegals that can be broken down as follows:
A two-year Associates’ Degree in Paralegal Studies (or something similar) is the minimum educational requirement set by most private employers for their paralegals. These programs usually offer a broad introduction to the skills needed to work as a legal assistant, as well as the general education modules required to complete any A.S degree.
A four year B.S Degree program offers a more comprehensive legal education to prospective paralegals and is often the minimum educational requirement set by government agencies and large corporate law firms.
These programs usually feature an internship as a graduation requirement, which in some cases leads directly to employment. As is the case for any four-year degree, students will also need to meet general education prerequisites as a part of their overall studies.
A degree granting paralegal certificate program is designed for those who already hold a degree in another discipline but are interested in making a career change. As they meet degree specific general education requirements already, they can complete an A.S or B.S degree in paralegal studies requirements faster and graduate earlier than non-degreed students.
There are also (somewhat confusingly) paralegal certificate programs available that do not lead to any form of degree but are instead considered a career diploma. These, while not offering enough specific paralegal education to satisfy many employers, can be great for those who want to begin working in the field quickly and are happy to seek employment with small private law firms and some non-profits.
Best Paralegal Programs in Phoenix, AZ
2323 W 14th St, Tempe, AZ 85281
Rio Salado College is a part of the Maricopa County Community College system and specializes in offering affordable education to Phoenix, Arizona residents.
The school offers two campus based educational paths to those interested in becoming a paralegal. Their Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal program is a comprehensive two-year offering that provides students with a solid educational foundation in most areas of general law as well as legal research and legal ethics. Some students may also choose to complete an optional internship. This is a 62-64 credit program that can usually be completed in two years.
The Paralegal Certificate Program on offer is designed for those who hold an Associate’s Degree in another field, or those who can meet academic requirements set by the school. While not as comprehensive – or lengthy – as the A.S program, it still offers a great introduction to working as a paralegal that can be completed in about 12 months. The 30 credits earned may also be transferable to the A.S program at a later date.
Admission requirements for either program are set by the school and include meeting national and state residency requirements, minimum educational standards (including holding a high school diploma or GED) and passing an admissions interview. Costs are charged per credit on a sliding scale basis, with the lowest rates offered to permanent Maricopa County residents. Financial aid is available to those who qualify, along with a limited number of state based workforce grants.
350 West Washington Street, Tempe, AZ 85281
Bryan University is a private college in Tempe, AZ that offers a wide range of both Associate and Bachelor level degree programs. For those interested in becoming a paralegal, they offer an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and Litigation Technologies that is designed to be completed within four semesters (two years) and awards a total of 62-64 credits that may be transferable to the school’s campus based Bachelor’s Degree program at a later date. Conveniently, however, the A.S program can be completed completely online.
The course offers a comprehensive introduction to the role of a paralegal in both a law office and a courtroom setting. The school also states they place special emphasis on e-discovery and legal research, crucial skills or any paralegal, but especially for those working in corporate law.
Admission is based on prior academic performance and calls for a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED. The cost is determined by a student’s personal circumstances and residence, but the school does provide a net price calculator to help you estimate yours and financial aid is available to those who qualify.
National Paralegal College
717 E Maryland Ave, Phoenix AZ 85014-1561
As its name suggests, this school specializes in Paralegal Education and offers all the educational paths a student can follow to become a paralegal under one roof, with Certificate, A.S and B.S programs all on offer. These are all offered online, with optional in person internships available to some students should they wish to complete them.
While the focus of all three programs is squarely on the skills and knowledge needed to work as a paralegal, both degree programs do include a general education requirement to meet degree granting standards. The Certificate Program does not include such a requirement and while it is not mandatory that students already hold a degree to complete it, many employers do prefer to hire degreed employees.
The AS and BS programs can be completed in approximately two and four years respectively, while the Certificate can be completed in around twelve months. These timelines may vary slightly, as the nature of online coursework means that some students may work at a faster pace than others.
Admission requirements vary according to the course, with a high school diploma being a minimum requirement for any of them. The rates charged differ too.
Traditional financial aid is available to those who qualify, with costs charged at the highest ‘over time’ rate.
1202 W. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85013
Phoenix College, which is part of the Maricopa County Community College system, also offers both degree and certificate options at more affordable rates to local students.
Their two-year Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal program provides students with a comprehensive educational foundation in most areas of basic law, as well as legal research and legal ethics. Many students also choose to do an internship. This is a 62-64 credit curriculum that takes about two years to finish.
The paralegal certificate program on offer is for people with an Associate’s Degree in another discipline or who can satisfy the school’s academic criteria. While not as extensive – or as long – as the A.S. program, it nonetheless provides a solid foundation for working as a paralegal and may be finished in about a year. The 30 credits obtained may be applied to the A.S. program at a later time.
Meeting national and state residency criteria, minimal educational qualifications (including obtaining a high school diploma or GED), and passing an admissions interview are all prerequisites for either program. Costs are calculated on a sliding scale, with the lowest rates available to residents of Maricopa County. Financial aid, as well as a limited number of state-based employment grants, are available to individuals who qualify.